Tuesday, September 19, 2006

September 19th, 1900

St. Louis at Brooklyn

Yesterday I described a representative bit of history from the pre-1900 period and used it as an explanation of why I don't often do events from that time period. That's a loose standard, of course, and today's incident provides a perfect example that using 1900 as the cut off is hardly a perfect tool.

At some point during this game,
St. Louis catcher Wilbert Robinson objected to an umpire's ruling that a Brooklyn runner was safe at home. Being that this was the early days of baseball, Robinson's objections consisted of throwing the ball at the umpire and then poking him in the chest. In response, the umpire ejected Robinson, but this being the early days of baseball the ejection consisted of smacking Robinson in the mouth with his mask.

Normally at this point the manager, in this case John McGraw, would put in another catcher but this being the early days of baseball (and John McGraw being John McGraw) it was not that simple. McGraw refused to install another catcher, claiming that he only had two remaining catchers and one was injured and the other suspended. In response, the umpire declared the game a forfeit and awarded it to

Brooklyn fans were probably happy to see their team win, they were unhappy with the stoppage of play before seeing a whole game. Evidently hoping to head off a riot, Brooklyn team President Charles Ebbets (for whom Ebbets Field would be named in 1912) offered all fans who wanted one a full refund. For the fans then it was the best that could be expected, a free (partial) game and a Brooklyn victory. All in another day's work in the early days of baseball.

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