Undeterred by the fate of the Unions, the Empires yesterday grappled with the formidable Philadelphia club, and again were the representatives of St. Louis worsted.
Since Friday evening the Athletics have been the guests of the Empires, and around social boards and in the confidences of late hours there has been plenty of time for the two clubs to get well acquainted. The day was a better day than Friday, and the hot June sun was hidden, at intervals, by shifting clouds - dense enough now and then to keep off much of his glare. The roads were intolerably dusty, and there swept continually by a wanton west wind on a bender. At 3 o'clock the Athletics marched into the inclosure. The grey uniforms looked tidy and clean, and the sun-browned faces of the Philadelphians had a determined look, ominous of quick and earnest work.
The Empires were the earliest upon the ground, and looked soldierly indeed in their red caps, white shirts, dark pantaloons, and the initial letter of the club stamped broad and good in the very centre of the breast.
The Empires took the field, with Reach, of the Athletics, at the bat. This Reach is a cool, swift man, full of energy and agility. He was followed by McBride, the Field Captain of the Athletics, a pitcher without parallel, and a skirmisher without comparison.
The contest opened auspiciously for the Athletics, and from the first inning it was evident that they had the game all their own way. They were better drilled, better disciplined, cooler, more active, and in every way superior to the Empires. On this inning they scored five runs. During this inning the fielding of the Empires was good, and they meant to do better upon the second.
In the first inning for the Empires they only scored one run - that made by Roberts - owing to the splendid fielding of the Athletics, the Empires loosing every man on fly-balls.
On the second inning of the Athletics they scored but two runs, the fielding of the Empires greatly improving. In this inning, Fruin, after catching Shaffer out on a fly, with lightning-like rapidity fielded the ball to the second base, putting out Wilkins - thus suddenly ending the inning; but in the second inning of the Empires they were badly "white-washed."
In the third and fourth innings the Empires scored but three runs; but in the same innings of the Athletics they only scored two, and had it not been for a "muff" by Johnson, of the Empires, the "white-washing" would have been reciprocated.
A frown now came to McBride's bronzed face; the red cap of Cuthbert was lifted a moment for air; Reach's good-humored face set sternly; Wilkins girded up his belt a hole tighter; Berry's countenance had an anxious look; and Radcliff, with his face full in the glare of the sunlight, never wearied for a moment. The tide in the affairs of the Empire had changed, and they lost ground constantly until the end. In this inning, the fifth, the first home run was scored by Radcliffe; in the next, the Athletics made a culmination of their science by scoring fifteen runs; in the seventh, three; and in the eighth and ninth, eleven each - finishing by another home run on the part of Cuthbert - the ball leaving his bat as if fired from a canon.
In the fifth inning the Empires were again "white-washed;" in the sixth they scored but two runs, and in the seventh, eighth and ninth they were completely "played out," not scoring a run.
The Empires played with much enthusiasm, much devotion, much energy - but they were hopelessly over-matched from the first. In their ranks were some deserving and earnest players. Sharkey, the catcher, was smiling, swift, alert and untiring; Worth, first baseman, was excellent to catch fly balls, seconded by Johnson and Barron. Roberts was a tremendous hitter, and a fine athlete, and needed only practice.
The strategy of the Empires was miserable. But two bases were "stolen," and they neither seemed to make feints nor to understand them. On the other hand, the gray panthers crept along the ground from base to base, noiseless, swift, sure and invincible.
Considerable money was bet as to whether the Empires would be as badly defeated as the Unions, and the bets ranged from $100 down.
-Missouri Republican, June 14, 1868
-We get a nice description of the Empires' uniforms. I don't ever remember a description of them wearing red caps so that's kind of neat. And, again, I have to say that wearing dark colors in St. Louis in the summer is a bad idea for a baseball club. Also, again, we have a St. Louis club with a lettered crest, which was reasonably unique for the period.
-I liked the description of McBride as "a pitcher without parallel," which I think is apt. As I said the other day, the big difference between the top clubs of this era was pitching. The best clubs had a quality of pitching that lesser clubs couldn't match. It's not a huge revelation that the difference between clubs comes down to pitching - this is baseball, after all - but it's important to note because I think the difference in pitching quality between clubs like the Athletics and Empires was greater than that between the best and worst teams in MLB today.
-This was a game through four innings. I have to think that it was the Empires' defense that kept them in the game that long, before the quality of the Athletic squad came to the fore. From my reading of the sources, I think that the Eastern clubs all believed that the Empires were a better team than the Unions and a lot of that was based on the quality of the Empires' defense. I think they were also impressed with the fact that the club was probably fundamentally sounder than the Unions. They played smarter, more "scientific" game and that was largely due to the influence of Jeremiah Fruin, who had learned the game in the baseball hotbed of Brooklyn during the antebellum era.
-The reference to gambling is interesting and goes to the extent to which gambling was a large part of the game during this era. The St. Louis papers, until 1877, presented it as a benign activity but game-fixing, or accusations of game-fixing, was becoming an issue by this time. I think the earliest reference to game-fixing in baseball comes from 1865 and that makes a lot of sense, given how the game changed in the decade prior to that. With the increase in professionalism and the emphasis on winning rather socialization, there were greater opportunities for game-fixing in the second half of the 1860s. The problem would get much worse going forward.