The first game at Sportman's Park between the Chicago Club and the Browns proved a poor contest, very badly umpired and terminating in a forfeiture by the home club to the visitors, the end being attended by a scene of excitement and confusion that was rarely, if ever, been equaled at any previous ball game in this city. Sullivan, the League umpire, came down from Chicago to act in the game, and a more unfortunate selection could not have been made. In the first inning he gave Kelly out at second on a steal, when nearly everybody thought the runner was safe. In the third he more than evened up matters by declaring foul a safe hit to right by Foutz, who, on the hit and a fumble by Clarkson, reached second, from which he was called back. This decision aroused the spectators to great indignation and Sullivan was loudly and roundly denounced. When, in the third inning, Barkley was called out on a ball that was above his head, another storm of hissing and shouts of "Get another umpire" followed. During the fourth and fifth inning nothing especially exciting occurred, but in the first half of the sixth a crisis was reached. After Sunday had led off with a double to right and gone to third on a passed ball, Kelley hit a grounder to Gleason, who fumbled and then threw to first, clearly putting out Kelley. Sunday scored on the play and Kelley was decided "safe." While the crowd uttered exclamations of amazements, some of the more impetuous shouted "robbery." Comiskey came in off the field, protested against the decision, and objected to Sullivan umpiring any longer. Sullivan immediately went to the players' bench, put on his coat and sat down. Anson refused to permit a change of umpires, and a long wrangle followed. Finally Hon. John J. O'Neill stepped out of the grand stand into the field and joined the wrangling players. Anson asked what his business was on the field, and the answer was, "That's none of your business."
"Well, it is my business, and you have no business on the field," retorted the big captain of the Chicago team.
"I am the President of the club," said the Representative of the Eighth District.
"I always thought Von der Ahe was the President," remarked Anson as he was very suspiciously eyed the M.C.
"Well, I'm the Vice President of the club, and in the absence of the President from the city the Vice President takes his place, don't he?" was the rejoinder of the friend of the laboring man.
The upshot of it was that O'Neill remained and the game proceeded.
Kelly quickly stole second, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on a single to center by Anson. Pfeffer raised a fly to short right and Nicol muffed it, but threw Anson out at second, while Pfeffer secured his base. After Pfeffer had stolen second Williamson hit a slow grounder along the line to first. The ball was spinning as it traveled, and when near first base it reached the outside of the base line it struck the edge of the turf and turned so sharply inside the line that Comiskey failed to stop, and it struck the inside of the bag and ran a short distance beyond it. Meanwhile somebody shouted "Foul!" Pfeffer ran in from second and Williamson, after hesitating when the ball was outside the line, made a dash when it changed its course and reached first in safety. Comiskey claimed that the ball was foul, Sullivan insisted that it was fair, but Comiskey said it was not under American Association rules, to which Anson answered by calling for the rules. Another squabble was followed by Comiskey calling his men off the field. There was a rush of spectators into the field and while one crowd gathered around Anson, Superintendent Solari and a special officer escorted Sullivan off the field, a second crowd following them to the gate and abusing Sullivan at every step.
By leaving the field Comiskey made a serious blunder, for the rules made it the imperative duty of the umpire to declare the game forfeited, and while the act caused the home team the irretrievable loss of a game that they had a chance to win, it also gave to the backers of the Chicago Club considerable money that was wagered on the result. Under all rules the ball was a fair one, and the umpire was in no way to blame for the deceptive course it took. It was generally believed that Sullivan had called the ball "foul," but this he denies, and is supported in his denial by Robinson, the home catcher, who asserted that it was Anson who made the call in question; but even if he had declared it "foul" before it had passed inside the line, he would have been obliged to correct his decision and declare "fair."
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 16, 1885
It was always my understanding that the Browns claimed that they had won the 1885 series and I believed that this was based on disputing the forfeit of game two. However, based on the Globe's account of the game, I see no basis for the claim. Comiskey took the Browns off the field, quit the game and Chicago was rightly awarded the forfeit. The Browns forfeited one of the seven games of the series. And they were losing that game when they quit. Game two of the series, regardless of how it happened, was a victory for Chicago and a loss for the Browns.
The umpire for the game was David F. Sullivan, who umpired National League games in 1882 and 1885 and lived in Chicago. I think Anson was being a bit coy when he said that the Browns had selected Sullivan to umpire the game. It's likely that his name was put forward by Chicago, along with a few others, and the Browns picked Sullivan off of the list supplied by the White Stockings. Yes, the Browns had selected Sullivan but only after he was suggested by Chicago.
I searched high and wide for a box score to this game and did find one. Sadly, it was not in a format that allowed me to post it here. Interestingly, the Globe did not publish a box score to this game. Looking at the box score I did find, it looks like the Browns were having problems hitting McCormick and had only two hits in the game, through five innings. It was a sloppy game with Chicago committing five errors and the St. Louis battery of Foutz and Robinson combining for three passed balls and a wild pitch. Gleason, Welch, Comiskey and O'Neill scored for the Browns; Sunday and Pfeffer each scored twice for Chicago and Kelly scored once. Chicago had the only earned run in the game.
If this was the big controversy surrounding the 1885 series than it's not much of a controversy at all. Umpire Sullivan made some bad calls but Comiskey's decision to take his club off the field cost his team a chance to win the series. If the Browns had kept their composure instead of storming off the field, they could have come back and won game two. They were only down a run, had a rowdy home crowd on their side and the umpire was shaky. However, they walked off and forfeited the game. After the forfeit, the Browns had to win three of five to salvage a split series and four of five to win it. The only real controversy, according to the Globe, is Comiskey's decision to pull his team off the field.
However, there are other contemporary accounts of the game and they differ with the Globe's account. I'll take a look at those tomorrow.