Saturday, 28 March 2015

1886-06-12 Toronto-Hamilton Baseball

The ongoing rivalry between Toronto and Hamilton became particularly pronounced when sports teams from each city were scheduled to face each other.

Such was the case in June 1886 when two professional baseball teams, representing each city met in Toronto, on Saturday June 12, 1886. Toronto and Hamilton were members of the eight team International League – other six teams representing the following communities in New York State; Syracuse, Rochester, Utica, Buffalo, Binghamton and Oswego.

It was the fourth meeting of the season between the Hamiltons and the Torontos (as they were called). Hamilton had won two of the first three. In the same way that Hamilton had outclassed on the diamond, so too did it far outdistance Toronto as regards the manner the game was described in the newspapers of the respective cities.

The Toronto Globe had a relatively brief account of the game, while the Hamilton Spectator’s coverage was not only much more lengthy, it also contained a lot of color and humour.

The Toronto Baseball grounds were near the Don Valley and some distance from the Grand Trunk Railway station, the train being the means by which a contingent of 350 ‘baseball cranks’ from Hamilton would use to support their team.

When the game started, the Hamilton fans had yet to get to the grounds, although the Spectator reporter was there, and he opened his coverage of the game with a description of the Torontos baseball facility :

 “The Toronto grounds are easy of access. The conveniences are all here, and everything is on an elaborate scale. The grandstand is very large; but on this occasion, there is little space room. The field is broad and level. The north sod, upon which play is made is sodded, and is still a little rough, but will be a magnificent ball ground in time. The south end is unfinished, and has a rubbish shot here appearance. It will be levelled and sodded when the batters get strong enough to make it useful.”1

1 “The World of Sport : The Game at Toronto”

Hamilton Spectator.   June 14, 1886.

The umpire, and there was only one, was a man whose assertiveness and manner of calling a game drew special attention from the Spectator reporter:

“The umpire is Hoover. He is small and is apparently principally composed of lungs. His pronunciation has been sadly neglected; but the audience soon learn that ‘wah boo’ means one ball, and ‘stk taw’ is intended for two strikes. He is a working umpire, too, and is always where he is wanted. His judgment on balls and strikes is perfect, and his whole work is sharp, decisive and satisfactory. He is a vast improvement on all umpires that have been here before this season”1

The teams traded runs in the first inning and at the end of that inning, the Spec man noted that “the telegraph machine rattles away as it tells the waiting world that the game stands one to one.”1

As the second inning began, the crowd of about 2500 Toronto fans was augmented by the arrival of the Hamiltonians:

“The Hamilton delegation – 350 strong – arrive just in time to see the Hamiltons make a blinder, and they find seats silently and somewhat sadly. The Torontos make a run – one of the bitter fruits of error, and the Toronto cheer is heard away back in the southern counties of the field.”1

The score stood at 1-1 when the Hamiltons came to bat at the top of the third, and that half inning was when all the significant action of the game took place and the Spectator man covered it in detail:

“Now comes the fun. Obliging Mr. Smith, the gentlemanly third baseman of the Torontos fumbles a ball, and lets Rev. Mr. Rainey get his first. Artistic Mr. Kellogg takes a bat and poses. The umpire says things which, being interpreted, signify that Mr. Veach, the able and accomplished Toronto pitcher is pitching one, two, three, four, five bad balls. It is Mr. Kellogg’s desire that Mr. Veach shall pitch another of the same; but Mr. Veach sends one over the plate. Kellogg calmly adjusts his bat so that a foul tip shall result. It results. The Toronto audience laughs.

“Veach sends another over the plate. Again, the adjustment, and again the foul tip. And again the laughter – only louder. Again the ball over the plate, and again the foul tip. ; and the laughter is very loud.

“The fourth ball comes. Another artistic foul tip. The audience is silent. They think its gets monotonous. Another foul tip and the audience loses patience and shouts ‘Play ball,’ ‘no monkeying,’ and things like that.

“The sixth foul tip ensues. Kellogg is calm, smiling, confident. Veach looks warm, worried, wrathy. The audience hisses.

“The seventh ball comes squarely over the plate. But the foul tip spoils the strike. The audience shrieks wrathful things, and the hissing is tremendous.

“Another ball comes over the plate. Kellogg puts his bat in tipping position, but the ball misses it, and the little umpire tears his throat as he yells his peculiar synonym for ‘strike.’ The audience bursts into a prolonged and vigorous cheer, and artistic Mr. Kellogg is derided. But he remains cool, and the next ball being over the plate, he gracefully executes his eighth foul tip. And he immediately follows it with his ninth.

“The audience is wild. They do not understand this thing. They do not know that they are looking at the finest exhibition of artistic and strategic ball playing ever seen at Toronto. They think it’s child’s play, and their disappropriation is made loudly manifest.

“Pitcher Veach is also wild. That is what cool Mr. Kellogg is after. Veach fails to control the next ball and it goes by, wide of the plate. Strategist Kellogg carefully lays down his bat, and trots contently and smilingly to first.”1

After that prolonged at bat, there were two Hamiltons on base and soon the bases were full after centerfielder Wright gets a single. The bases are loaded with none out when Hamilton’s ‘Chub’ Collins makes a hit, scoring two of the runners.

Wright, being a very fast runner, although he did not score on the play, did make it as far as third base. Hamilton left fielder McGunkin, the next batter, hit a hot shot to the Toronto second baseman who intended to force Collins out at second and then throw to first in time to get the second out. Unfortunately, in his anxiety to make a double play, he dropped the ball and no one got out:

“The Hamilton delegation, during this time, is vigorously demonstrating its lung power. “1

The Toronto pitcher loses his composure and started yelling at his own second baseman for his poor fielding:

“Collins sees his chance, and makes a plunge for third. He is almost there when Veach is waked up. Veach turns and throws the ball at third, after the manner of a rifle ball. It is a little wild and the third baseman misses it, and the ball goes to the fence. Collins rushes home, and McGunkin legs it around the bases and adds the fifth run.

“Toronto people’s faces grow very long. Hamilton’s delegation is wild with excitement. Hats are waved and flung about, and grown men do and say things that they would never do or say again if they could but cooly sit and watch and listen to themselves.”1

The Toronto scorekeeper charged with keeping the current score posted in chalk on a blackboard, according to the Spectator man tried “to make the 5 look like a three.”

The Torontos gets a run back in their half of the third inning, and another in the fourth. The score was 5 – 3 Hamilton when the Torontos came to bat in the bottom of the fifth. It seemed like the Torontos had tied the game on a particular hit that seemed to be a fair ball to the batter and the Toronto crowd, but umpire Hoover called it foul :

“(The batter) kicks quite vigorously, but the little umpire looks up at him and shakes his head. The Toronto partisans are sure it is a fair ball. The Hamilton partisans are willing to accept the umpire’s decision. He is in the best place to see. A Toronto reporter gets up in the box and shouts naughty names at the umpire.”1

Nevertheless, the Torontos did manage to push two runners across the plate:

“And the big, hearty cheer echoes all along the valley of the Don, and scares the mudcats and tadpoles. The telegrapher works his key vigorously, and it is suspected that the ‘I-told-you-sos’ in Hamilton are swelling with self-esteem.”1

To kill the Toronto rally, the Hamilton’s manager, and second baseman, Chub Collins, had seen enough of his starting pitcher:

“A pitching change by Chub Collins – “what is this? Can six thousand eyes be deceived ? Mickey Jones walks into the pitcher’s box, and picks up the ball. He passes a few practice balls to Jack Morrison, and the game is resumed. Jones doesn’t open up well. The umpire begins to call balls on him. The counts, one, two, three, four, five, six, and batter takes his first.

“The Toronto partisans laugh. They jeer Mr. Pitcher Jones, and say to one another, ‘We’ve got ‘em now,’ ‘What a pie!’ But they don’t have ‘em now, and there’s no appearance of the pie.

“ Jones’ good left hand begins to know what is expected of it, and his sharp curves and double-twisters follow each other over the plate in procession style. In the four innings, the newly-discovered southpaw pitcher pitches out such sluggers as Faatz, and Albert, and none of the Torontos make a hit. In the eighth inning, the Hamiltons score one and break the tie. The Hamilton delegation whoops it up with much sustained power.

“The ninth inning results in two blinders.

“ The Hamilton delegation elbow their way to the street, and are so happy that they don’t know to this day whether they rode up town in a K. of . L. street car, or a Frank Smith bus, or walked.”1

The final score was 7 to 6.

The hero of the game was a first baseman turned pitcher, Mickey Jones. The Spectator reporter just had to laud the left-handed Hamilton player and conclude his account of the exciting game with the following poem :


          MICKEY OF CORK

Though bounded between us the billows of ocean –

   Though fate’s fickle fancy had pulled us apart –

Thy name wouldst still cause me the sweetest emotion,

   And though wouldst reign ever the king of my heart.

   Oh Mickey ! of pitchers boss pitcher thou art;

And though dost come from the precincts of Cork,

Thou canst strike out the sluggers in poor little York.


Yes, poor little York – let the mud go forever –

   Its pride, like a drunken man, sleeps in the dust;

Though the sluggers may slug, they can hit Mickey never.

   While their bats will corrupt with the ravenous rust

   Of comfort, old fellow, don’t give ‘em a crust –

You may give ‘em a crumb on the end of a fork,*

But see that it stops there, of Mickey of Cork.


We boast of our bay, and our towering mountain,

   Of our cedar-blocked streets and our Thirteenth Batt. Band,

We brag of our Gore and its elegant fountain,

   Of our Beach with its willows and pillows of sand,

   But great above all these, great, yes, and grand,

Is he with long legs like the stalks of a stork,

But king among pitchers – our Mickey of Cork.”

*pitchfork  1

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

1886-06-18 Windy Ball Game

June 17, 1886 was a windy day for a baseball game, and the game played on the diamond at Dundurn park proved to be a windy affair in more ways than one.

A team from Oswego, New York State was in Hamilton to play a local side.

The coverage from the Hamilton Spectator follows :

“The game at Dundurn yesterday was an atmospheric affair. The wind blew powerfully all through the game, in spite of the fact that the batters struck it some awful blows; the umpire used a great deal of wind to very good purpose, and anybody within a mile of the diamond could hear what he whispered; the long first baseman of the Oswegos kept up a continual shouting during the whole time his side was at bat; the Oswego team made a very effective chorus until the umpire intimated that he didn’t want no more of that ‘hollerin’ – altogether the game was quite windy.1

1 “The World of Sport”

Hamilton Spectator.   June 18, 1886