August 1, 2021

Part Three: The Story Of The 1888-1889 New York Giants

September 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The 1889 World Series would be a battle of the boroughs as the National League champion, New York Giants, would look to repeat as world champions against the American Association champion, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms.

As soon as the pennants in both leagues were decided, representatives from both squads sat down and laid down the ground work for the World Series. The two sides agreed to a best-of-eleven series to determine the world championship. In order to avoid the mess from the previous year, both teams agreed to cease the series after one team captured the six games required to win the title. The year before, New York wrapped up their series against St. Louis but the teams continued to play out the remaining games in front of sparse crowds.

In some good weather, 8,455 fans – both of New York and Brooklyn – came to the Polo Grounds to watch game one of the World Series. The Giants opened up the game with a three-up and three-down but Brooklyn made the first statement of the series in their half of the first. Brooklyn tagged Giants starter Tim Keefe for six hits in the first frame, capped off with a two RBI single by Pop Corkhill. When the damage was all accounted for, the Dodgers had taken a 5-0 lead.

New York battled back though, and after six innings, the Bridegroom lead had been cut down to 6-5. Then, in the seventh, shortstop John Ward hit a clutch, two out, two RBI single, giving the Giants their first lead of the ballgame. Brooklyn then looked to lose control of the game. A play fumbling the ball, allowing Ward to reach third on his single, Bridegroom outfielder Darby O’Brien dropped an inning-ending fly ball hit off the bat of Roger Connor, making the score 8-6 for the home side. The error ended up costing Brooklyn more, as the Giants tallied twice more in the inning to take a four run lead.

Brooklyn cut the lead in half in the end of the seventh, thanks to a Dave Foutz two-run double. Brooklyn starter Adonis Terry retired the Giants in the eighth and with the sun setting quickly, Brooklyn needed to strike in the inning. With two away and a runner on second, O’Brien, who’s earlier errors had allowed the game to slip away from his club, hit a groundball that slipped through the legs of Giants second baseman Danny Richardson. The next batter, Hub Collins, hit a fly ball towards centerfielder George Gore, who never saw the ball in the fading daylight. O’Brien scored to tie the game up. Oyster Burns then hit a clean double, allowing Collins to score the winning run. Brooklyn added one more in the frame to go up 12-10 and after the inning, the umpires called the game due to darkness. The American Association pennant winners left game one with a wild, 1-0 lead in the series.

Game two went the next day at Washington Park in Brooklyn and a crowd of 16,100 – the second largest to ever see a game at Washington Park – were hoping to witness their Bridegrooms take a strangle hold on the series and they appeared to be in good shape. Heading to the mound for the home side was 40-game winner Bob Caruthers while opposing him was Ed Crane, who had posted a modest 14-11 record during the regular season.

The teams traded single runs in the first two innings. Then, Ed Crane went into shutdown mode. “You must be feeling good today,” catcher Buck Ewing said to his starter during the contest, “You didn’t leave your speed at home.”

All Brooklyn could muster off Crane was two hits and New York’s offense scratched runs across in the first five innings to tie the series up with a 6-2 victory. It was for the most part a sloppy defensive game (New York committed five, Brooklyn three) which saw neither pitcher charged with an earned run.

New York lost games three and four by scores of 8-7 and 10-7, respectively. In the fourth game, frustration with the umpiring had reached a pivotal point for the Giants, which accumulated with Ewing threatening to pull his team off the field in the sixth. With the score 7-5 Brooklyn and Ewing on first base, Ward struck a single sending Ewing to third. An error on the throw in allowed Ewing to score, and Ward advanced to third base. Catcher Bob Clark fielded the ball and threw it to third base, where the ball struck Jim O’Rourke, who was coaching third base. The error allowed Ward to score, tying the game, but Brooklyn wanted umpire John Gaffney to send Ward back to third on interference.

Gaffney, already having drawn the ire of the Giants due to some other calls earlier in the series, was confronted by Ewing, the Giants captain. According to the New York Times, Ewing said to the umpire, “Mr. Gaffney, if you decide against us I will take my men from the field. You know perfectly well that Ward is entitled to his run…I don’t propose to be bulldozed any longer. One-sided umpiring has been the cause of our defeats, and it must stop right here.”

Gaffney ruled Ward’s run counted the game was tied at 7. Again however, the fading daylight beat the Giants. With two on and two out, Oyster Burns hit a ball over O’Rourke’s head in left that could not be found. Brooklyn plated three runs, including Burns, on the play and after the inning, the game was again called. Brooklyn was halfway to a World Series victory.

Game five was a pitching rematch of the second game and once again, Ed Crane outpitched Bob Caruthers. Crane, pitching to new catcher William Brown, who replaced the ill Buck Ewing, held Brooklyn to only three runs while his offense posted eleven runs to lead the Giants to the first runaway victory by either side in the series. The Giants hit three home runs, one each by Danny Richardson, Brown, and Crane himself.

The sixth game featured the best played baseball of the series. While Hank O’Day, who earned a starting spot thanks to a great relief appearance in the third game, pitched great, Brooklyn starter Adonis Terry pitched even better. Entering the ninth inning, only one run had been scored in the contest and it belonged to the Bridegrooms, who pushed one across in the second. After securing two outs in the frame, the Giants were down to their last batter, John Ward.

Ward kept the Giants alive by sending a scorching line drive up the middle for a base hit. As Roger Connor dug into the box, Ward, who had a team-leading 62 stolen bases during the regular season, took second base with ease. He wasn’t done there. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Ward stole third base, allowing the tying run to sit 90 feet away. Connor then hit a sharp groundball right at shortstop Jumbo Davis, who let the ball bounce right through him. The Giants had tied the game up and it would be decided in extra innings.

The game would be decided in the eleventh frame. Giants’ leadoff man Mike Slattery let off the inning with a single. After Mike Tiernan made the first out of the inning, Buck Ewing was retired on the 4-3 putout that allowed Slattery to move to second base for John Ward, whose daring base running had gotten the Giants to this point. Ward chopped a ball past the mound and the shortstop Davis fielded it cleanly. However, his best throw could not beat the fleet-footed Ward to first. On the play, Slattery advanced home for the game-winning run and the Giants had successfully battled back into the series, making it now a best-of-five series for the championship.

If there were any questions surrounding who had the momentum in the series, they were answered in the second inning of Game 7. The Giants unleashed an unruly offensive attack off of Brooklyn starter Tom Lovett. They sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning, highlights by back-to-back jacks by Richardson and O’Rourke. In total, the Giants put up an eight-spot, en route to an 11-7 victory to take control of the series. Ed Crane, starting his third game in four days, was a bit shaky, issuing nine walks over seven innings, but he did enough to secure his third victory of the series.

The onslaught continued the next day, when the Giants racked up 15 hits in a 16-7 win over Brooklyn, closing them to within one game of the championship. John Ward led the charge offensively with three hits and five stolen bases. Mike Tiernan also had a home run. Again, the victory on the mound went to Ed Crane, who held Brooklyn in check for most of the contest. Oyster Burns had a two-run home run for the Bridegrooms.

Brooklyn did their best to ensure the ninth game of the series was not the final one. They struck first blood in the first inning, when Oyster Burns hit a two-run double off of Giants starter Hank O’Day. The Giants cut the lead in half the same inning, when Ward tripled home lead-off man Mike Tiernan. The game remained that way until the sixth, when Danny Richardson plated Ward on a sacrifice fly to tie the game up at deuces.

In the very next inning, the Giants struck into the lead on a Brooklyn misplay. With two outs, Mike Slattery stole second base to put the potential series-winning run in scoring position. The batter, Buck Ewing, swung and missed at strike three, but the ball skipped away from Brooklyn catcher Doc Bushong. Slattery scored all the way from second, to put the Giants up 3-2.

Brooklyn had one last chance in the ninth. O’Day walked Germany Smith to lead off the inning. Bushong came up next, looking to atone for his earlier mistake. He hit a hard line drive at third baseman Art Whitney, who made the catch, then quickly threw across the diamond to double off Smith, who got a little too far off first. With two out, Darby O’Brien kept the Bridegrooms alive with another base on balls but the next batter, Hub Collins, never got a chance to score him. O’Brien was caught stealing second base and thus, the series was over. The New York Giants had rallied to win their second World Series in as many years.

In 1890, a new threat hit the Giants. The Players League, which was helped founded by John Ward, started up and many of the Giants left to play in the new league (outfielder Mike Tiernan and pitcher Mickey Welsh were the only returning starters). The player turnover hurt the Giants, and they saw a 20-win decrease from the previous season, finishing sixth in the NL. Who took over from the Giants atop the National League? The Brooklyn Bridegrooms, who had transferred over from American Association during the off-season. Unaffected by any defectors to the Players League, the Bridegrooms won 86 games for the NL pennant.

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