The largest gathering in years occupied the grounds of the St. Louis Sportsmen’s Park and Club yesterday afternoon, on the occasion of the return game between the St. Louis Brown Stockings and the strong professional team that claims Akron, O., as its abiding place. There were at least 5,000 spectators in attendance, all the stands and the extra seats erected during the week being thronged. In addition to this the grounds were encircled by a crowd six deep in some places. The diamond, owing to the drough, was as hard as adamant, and the two balls used-one was lost-were of the liveliest description. From the way they bounded from the bat, it looked as if there was nothing but rubber in their composition. A regular old-fashioned hard-hitting, “bum” fielding and run-getting contest was the result. As the home team wielded their bats with a little more vigor than their opponents, they offset their defeat of the day previous by
A Well-Earned Victory.
The conquest was almost unexpected as McGinnins was practically disabled. His injured finger was so sore that his pitching was not to be compared to what it usually is. Mac’s comrades atoned for his affliction, however, by pounding the visiting pitchers all over the field, and the lead that they secured in the third inning was retained to the end. In the face of the fierce hitting there were of course many errors, but they were not by any means as numerous as the general public supposed. Many of the balls pounded directly at the fielders were so swift as to preclude the possibility of their being handled with accuracy. Billy Gleason alone of the in-fielders escaped with a clean record. His display at short in this contest was probably the best of his life and certainly was never eclipsed on a ball field. Many of his stops and catches were simply extraordinary, and his throwing perfection, as usual. Gault played a splendid game at first. He dropped one of Baker’s superb throws from over-confidence, but manned his base in a way that more than atoned for the solitary blunder. George Seward’s brilliant work in right field contributed its full share to the successful outcome of the struggle. Baker behind the bat played up to his usual high mark. His earnest and effective work has made him one of the most popular players in the team. The elder Gleason led at the bat, one of his ferocious drives being probably the longest hit ever seen on the grounds. The batting was simply terrific on both sides the Ohio lads being very little behind their opponents in that line. Wise, Stockwell and Jones did their most effective work. These teams will play the third and last game of their series this afternoon. Each having won once the final tilt will be regarded with more than ordinary interest. McGinnis will do the best he can, and the full Brown Stocking nine will back him up all the more earnestly that he is crippled. McDonald, who has been quite ill for several days, and who pluckily attempted to fill his position in the early part of yesterday’s game, will be replaced by Levis until he recuperates.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 29, 1881
The important take-away here is the fact that the game drew a big Sunday crowd. Nineteenth century attendance figures are notoriously unreliable so you can take the number with a grain of salt. Still, the perception that this was a big crowd and, in fact, was the biggest baseball crowd that St. Louis had seen in years is valid. It goes directly to the point I've been stressing during this series regarding the recovery of the baseball economy and how that would lead to Von der Ahe's Browns and the American Association.
This wasn't a game against a historical rival. It wasn't a championship game. This Akron club wasn't the 1869 Cincinnati club. In 1879, this game never would have been played and if it had, it wouldn't have drawn much of a crowd. But things were different in 1881. Things had changed. The dark days of the Interregnum were over and St. Louis was moving quickly to becoming, once again, a major league baseball city.