The Good Old Days

An unusual episode happened in a Providence-Buffalo game. Dorgan struck a foul ball, which bounded back and hit him. Some of the keen-eyed spectators concluded the ball was hit fairly, and volunteered the information that the batsman was out. McLean [the umpire] turned around, and wanted to know who was acting as umpire. While his attention was off the game, Dorgan made a safe hit and reached first base. McLean promptly called him back, and made him bat over again when he went out. Ward, the captain of the Providence nine, then announced that the remainder of the game would be played under protest on the ground that the umpire had not called “Time.” As the Providence Club won, the protest was let drop. Source:  New York Clipper January 8, 1881

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3 thoughts on “The Good Old Days

  1. Sometimes one gets the sense that there was a great deal more slapstick in reality in ye olde days, rather than just in their comedy.

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    • It certainly shows that the game moved faster back then. There was a lot of commentary back in the day about how fast baseball is, and you had to stay on your toes to keep up. (This often was contrasting baseball with cricket.) People nowadays find this commentary hilarious. Yes, part of this is that things were slower back then. But baseball has gone the other direction. It moved much faster back then. There was a brief trend in the late 1850s of reporting pitch counts. These were absurdly high by modern standards: two to three times what you see today. They also reported how long the games took: about two hours. How did they manage thins? By not screwing around. The catcher threw the ball to the pitcher; the pitcher pitched it. They didn’t stand around contemplating the universe between pitches. And as we see in this excerpt, they didn’t think to wait for the umpire to say he was ready.

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  2. Ward was, by the way John Montgomery “Monte” Ward (a distant relative of the department store’s founder), a great pitcher and fine batter, one of the founders of both the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players and the Players League , and one of the first celebrities in the modern sense of the word.

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