The contest between the Athletics, of Philadelphia and the Unions, of this city, came off yesterday afternoon, at the grounds of the Union Club. These grounds are pleasantly located on Grand avenue, near the fair inclosure, and were richly carpeted with green and low-lying grasses.
Before the hour designated for the contestants to stand up in the arena, the cars began to bring in their passengers, and the carriages to roll rapidly along in the yellow dust of the parched highways. These latter, on reaching the ground, were ranged in line in rear of the reporters' stand - where the most shade gathered - and scant shade at that.
From a prominent flagstaff the stars and stripes waved gally over the contest, and underneath its folds were covered seats for the ladies.
The unhooded falcon, east off from the fair hand of Philadelphia, has swooped from the Schuylkill to the Missouri - from the East to the West - and along the route, over which the fleet wings of the Athletics swept, there are quarries stricken hard and heavily.
Propitious weather came out of the sky and moved in the winds, and the day was everything that could be desired.
The veterans of twenty campaigns march into the arena - eager, active men all, and bronzed brown by sun and wind work. The picked nine are grouped and resolute, and showed beautifully in their tidy gray uniforms. The dress of the Unions was white cap, black pants, striped belt - broad and flexible - and in the centers of the shirt is the tastefully worked monogram of the club.
A quick, scrutinizing glance at the champions of the two clubs - even to one little versed in such matters - would reveal at once the difference between them. The Athletics were low, active men - perfectly developed, cool as iron, disciplined as a corps of Zouaves, and drilled to the perfection of soldiers.
The Unions - many of them - were great strapping fellows, slow of motion, evidently anxious about the magnitude of the job undertaken, and without confidence enough to be collected.
The playing began with much spirit, and all in the favor of the Athletics from beginning to end. It was really interesting to watch the perfection of their movements and the perfect knowledge they possessed of the strategy of the game.
The playing of Reach was superb. His power of stroke, coolness and swiftness of foot were remarkable.
The strategy and even pitching of McBride, the readiness with which he yielded to every decision of the umpire, and the most perfect discipline he exercised in the ranks of his little battalion, made him a host in himself. Full in the glare of the unclouded sun, Radcliff, the catcher, never for a moment lost his nerve or his vigor.
Cuthber, in the left field, was long of leap and agile as a panther, and Fisler and Berry, 1st and 2d Base, were hard to beat on any field.
The Unions seemed to be out of practice and to a considerable degree "fluried," while now and then unmistakable signs of indifference were manifested by some of the players. In physique they were inferior to the Athletics, and they were inferior to them also in ability, practice, skill, and that perfect, smiling and universal confidence, which is but another name for victory.
-Missouri Republican, June 13, 1868
Some random thoughts about all of this:
-I don't know why but I think it's interesting that the American flag was flying at the ballpark. The tradition of flying the flag at the ballpark appears to date back to 1862, when an American flag was flown at a ballpark in Brooklyn. Given everything that was going on at the time, it makes sense that the tradition dates to the Civil War.
-I did not know that the Union Club wore black pants. Personally, I think that black is bad color for a baseball club, especially one that plays in a place like St. Louis, where it can get rather warm during the summer months. I was, however, aware that they had a monogrammed "U" on their bibs. While our knowledge about early uniforms is pretty scant, I think this is one of the first uniform crests that we have a record of. The Union Club wasn't the first to adopt a uniform crest but I believe that they were one of the first.
-I have to think that this was Ned Cuthbert's first visit to St. Louis, his future hometown.
-As to the Union players showing "indifference" in their play, these things happen when you're down thirty runs after five innings.
-I don't know if I'm surprised or not by the fact that the Unions were nervous before the game. Philadelphia was a great club and they were playing well on their tour but the Unions were a championship club and one of the best clubs in the West. But this was a big stage and the Athletics were used to playing on it while the Unions were not. I do believe that it's possible that the author of this article stressed their anxiousness as a reason for the club's poor play and it was something he saw in retrospect rather than in the moment.
-The Unions were inferior to the Athletics "in ability, practice, skill and...confidence..." True but a bit harsh. The real difference between the best clubs of this era and second-tier clubs like the Unions was pitching. Dick McBride was probably the best pitcher the Unions had ever faced and they didn't do much with him. The Athletics, on the other hand, didn't have too many problems with the pitching of H.C. Pierce. That seems rather simplistic to say but it's true. The best clubs of the era had hard throwing pitchers who could put movement on the ball and the lesser clubs weren't used to facing that. Also, we should note, the better clubs had catchers who could handle that hard, nasty stuff. In the end, the Union Club simply wasn't good enough to stand up to the kind of pitching that McBride was bringing and they didn't have good enough pitching to throw at the Athletics. That's why they lost by forty runs.
Tomorrow, I'll post the rest of the article.