BROOKLYN BEATS BROWNS BY FORFEIT IN NEAR-RIOT
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – (Sept. 8, 1889) In the most bizarre game ever played at Washington Park, Brooklyn yesterday won by forfeit 9 to 0 after St. Louis manager Charles Comiskey – with his team ahead 4 to 2 — pulled his players off the field claiming it was too dark to play.
Angry Brooklyn fans pelted the Browns with beer bottles and other objects as the players left the field, and St. Louis right fielder Tommy McCarthy got into an altercation with one fan on his way to the safety of the dressing room. Sporting Life writer J. Donnelly, quickly dubbed the strange contest “the Frankenstein and Lobster Game.”
The bizarre ending spoiled the most-anticipated game of the year in Brooklyn. Long lines of fans jostled at the ticket window as early as 1 o’clock, three hours before game time. By 3 p.m. the stands were filled as more spilled over into the grass hill beside the field and behind the ropes surrounding the outfield. So many ladies were present in the overflow crowd of 15,143 that some had to sit in the bleaching boards instead of in the stands.
The two starting pitchers, Bob Caruthers for Brooklyn and Icebox Chamberlain for St. Louis, were in top form. Chamberlain struck out three straight batters in the second inning. Caruthers duplicated the feat in the third inning.
Brooklyn began the game by scoring two runs in the top of the first inning on hits by Hub Collins and Dave “Needles” Foutz.” At this point, the volatile owner of the St. Louis team, Chris Von der Ahe, left his seat in the stands and joined his team on the bench. He was accompanied by two young assistants dressed in suits and ties. St. Louis scored a run in the fifth inning on a hit by catcher Jocko Milligan. The Browns moved ahead 3 to 2 in the sixth inning when Tip O’Neill singled, went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Comiskey and scored on a single by Yank Robinson. Shorty Fuller then doubled home Robinson.
As the seventh inning started at 5:40 p.m. manager Comiskey began demanding that umpire Fred Goldsmith end the game because of darkness (giving St. Louis the win). When Goldsmith refused to call the game, the Browns went into delay mode. First pitcher Chamberlain would walk half way to first base to confer with Comiskey. When they were done, O’Neill would stroll in slowly from left field to chat with Commy. Then McCarthy would do the same from right field. Chamberlain would finally make a pitch, then the delay routine would be repeated all over again.
St. Louis owner Von der Ah meanwhile sent his young aides out to store to buy some candles. When they returned, the St. Louis players lit the candles in a row around their bench to indicate to umpire Goldsmith that it was too dark to play. Von der Ahe’s rosy face glowed from the light. But the Bridegrooms were not amused. Manager Bill McGunnigle had Von der Ahe’s two young aides ejected from the field.
Umpire Goldsmith was not moved by the display and the game continued. St. Louis scored another run in the bottom of the seventh inning, moving to a 4 to 2 lead over the Bridegrooms. Meantime, rightfielder McCarthy got into a shouting match with Brooklyn fans. Then, during a lull in the ninth inning, McCarthy picked up the game ball and soaked it in a bucket by the players’ bench. Umpire Goldsmith, informed of the trickery, put a new ball in play and ordered the game to go on despite Comiskey’s demands to end the contest.
Brooklyn came to bat in the top of the ninth inning at 6:18 p.m. Germany Smith swung and missed at a third strike, but ran safely to first base when catcher Milligan missed the ball. Milligan slammed his glove on home plate, complaining that he couldn’t see the ball. At that point, Comiskey ordered the St. Louis team off the field, even though the Browns were leading. The players picked up bats and balls and headed for the dressing room as Brooklyn fans hooted, hollered and began throwing objects on the field. Umpire Goldsmith waited the required five minutes, then ruled the game a forfeit in favor of Brooklyn. The forfeit also subjects St. Louis to a $1,500 fine.
Von der Ahe claimed that his players fled the field in fear of their lives. McCarthy allegedly was hit in the face by a stone and nearly had his jaw broken. Von der Ahe said he also was targeted: “As I was leaving the players’ bench to go to (Brooklyn President Charles) Byrne’s office, some contemptible whelp threw a beer glass at me, and it came very near to hitting me on the head.”
Brooklyn officials denied the charges. Manager McGunnigle said: ‘I never saw a man make a greater mistake than Von der Ahe is making. He is a bad loser and has lost his head because he is in danger of losing the pennant. The St. Louis men were not mobbed, not injured and not in danger.”
The forfeit expanded Brooklyn’s lead over St. Louis to 3 l/2 games. The two teams are scheduled to play again today. Since it is a Sunday, and Sunday baseball is banned in Kings County, the game will be played in Brooklyn’s other home park in Ridgewood, N.Y.
American Association Standings
Team W L Pct. Games Behind
Brooklyn 76 37 .673
St. Louis 72 40 .643 3 l/2