THE 1882 BALTIMORE CLUB
by Clifford Blau
On November 2, 1881, six baseball clubs met and organized a new league, the American Association of Base Ball Clubs (AA.) They were the Cincinnati, St. Louis, Eclipse of Louisville, Allegheny of Pittsburg, Atlantic of Brooklyn, and Athletic of Philadelphia clubs. In February, however, the Atlantics, run by Billy Barnie, determined that they would not be able to raise sufficient capital to successfully run the club in Brooklyn, and withdrew. At the next meeting of the AA, in mid-March, the Baltimore club was accepted as the sixth member.
Henry Myers, a professional ball player since 1875 who had been playing with various clubs in Baltimore since 1879, organized the team and served as its manager. The club initially comprised Tricky Nichols, pitcher; Bill Jones, catcher; Charles Householder, first base; Bill Wise, second base; Jacob Aydelott, third base, Myers at shortstop, Frank Burt in left field, Ed Whiting in center field, and Charles Waitt in right field, with Alder as substitute. By late April, Aydelott had been replaced by Harry Jacoby and John Shetzline was playing second, with no sign of Alder. Jones and Whiting switched positions. This team that Myers had put together would prove to have the worst hitting, pitching, and fielding in the AA. They would also manage to win even fewer games at home than on the road, a remarkable feat in a league in which, until mid-July, the home team could hire anyone it wanted as umpire. After early May, they were never out of last place.
Home for the Baltimores was Newington Park in Baltimore. They wore gray uniforms with red stockings, belts, and trim. The 80-game schedule began in Philadelphia on May 2, with Baltimore quickly showing what it was made of by blowing a lead after the sixth inning, letting the Athletics score three in the seventh and four more in the eighth. They won their first game two days later, with Jacoby homering and scoring three runs. Wise left the club for a steady job in Washington and he was replaced by local amateur Nick Scharf, who had some problems defensively and offensively and lasted just ten games, but that was long enough for him to tie for the club leadership in home runs with one. Change pitcher Doc Landis, who had quickly been released by the Athletics after their May 4 loss, was added and would become the team’s top pitcher. The home opener on May 9 drew a paid crowd of about 2500, with many more people on top of wagons and roof tops outside the grounds getting a free look, which would prove to be a problem all year long. The Baltimores lost their first six games on the home stand. Burt was released at the end of May and Gracie Pierce was signed to replace him. Pierce, besides becoming team captain, took over at second base, with Shetzline shifting to third, Jacoby moving to right, and Waitt going over to left. This didn’t help. After a 3-11 start in May, the team really hit the skids, losing 15 championship games in a row. Their next league win came on July 6 in Pittsburgh; they would win six of their eight games against the Alleghenys there, including four in a row in August. They did win some exhibition games along the way, though, including a 25-4 victory over the Quaker City club on June 3.
Cincinnati made a triple play against the Baltimores on June 6 when, with the bases loaded, Pop Snyder intentionally dropped a third strike and then stepped on home, followed by throws to third and second which forced out the runners. They fell victim to the same ploy on July 26 against St. Louis. But when Billy Taylor of the Alleghenys tried it on August 12, it backfired. He made a wild throw to third, and Tom Brown followed with a 3-run triple which gave Baltimore the 6-4 win.
On June 28, in Cincinnati, both teams failed to score until the tenth inning, when they both pushed across four runs. Following a rain delay, Landis found the wet ball difficult to control and gave up another seven runs, yielding two triples to Harry Wheeler. Cincinnati pitcher Will White brought out a box of saw dust with him and used it to dry the ball off before each pitch and shut Baltimore down in the bottom of the inning. The two clubs set a Major League record which still stands with 15 runs in extra innings.
Baltimore added two new players, amateur Monk Cline and Brown, a California pro whose playing career lasted until 1899, in RF. Brown was installed in the cleanup slot and would be the club's leading hitter with a .33 OBA and .37 SA. Cline took over center field where Landis and Nichols played when they weren’t pitching. The club played much better after these additions, going 13-24 in the second half of the season. They showed a new competitiveness upon returning home for four games against first-place Cincinnati starting July 11. Baltimore took the first game 9-6 and lost 1-0 the next day on a disputed umpire’s call. A hit down the left field line by Waitt seemed to tie the game in the seventh until Michael Walsh called it a foul ball. Walsh then had to run for his life as the fans poured out of the stands, although order was restored after a few minutes. Nichols was released, so Bill Wise returned to take his place in the box in front a capacity crowd, but a five for five game by Pop Snyder and the usual inability to hit led to a 6-0 defeat. The final game was another close one, with Cincinnati taking it 6-4 despite Baltimore throwing out four runners at home. Bill Geiss, a semi-pro from Chicago, was signed as the new change pitcher; he would go on to have a long pro career, but would rack up an ERA more than two runs higher than the league average in 1882. After their losing streak ended, the Baltimores won 11 of their next 21 games with their new players. They then reverted to their losing ways. They suffered an additional indignity on September 5 when they were forced to start the game without their uniforms, which had been left at the train station when they returned home from a road trip. The uniforms were finally delivered in the fifth inning. Trailing 3-0 at the time, they at least outscored the Alleghenys 1-0 once they were properly dressed. Meanwhile, they continued their success in exhibition games, smashing the Actives in Reading 25-0 and 12-3 in mid-September. A loss against the Merrit club in Camden, NJ followed, when future big leaguer Bob Emslie held them to one hit, but the Baltimores rebounded for an 8-1 win on September 16. Whiting, perhaps their only player in demand, signed a 1883 contract with the Eclipse Club in early July. He ended up catching in 72 of the 74 games Baltimore played, leading the league in most defensive categories.
A couple more personnel changes were made. Gracie Pierce became ill and left the club in late August; he was replaced by Bill Smiley, who had been released by St. Louis. In mid-September, a new pitcher, Jack Leary, replaced Geiss, and he would win two of his three starts. Still, the club finished the season with a record of 19-54. At this time, there was talk of a new club being formed to represent both Baltimore and Washington and replace the Baltimores in the AA. That was followed by another, more substantive challenge, as a group led by George Cassidy leased Newington Park for 1883.
The club played some exhibition games after the close of the championship season, including three straight losses to Harrisburg and the Actives of Reading, and then went quietly into that good night. It didn’t even send a representative to the AA meeting which awarded the Baltimore franchise to the new team managed by Billy Barnie, which would come to be known as the Orioles.
Most books show the 1883 Baltimores as a continuation of the 1882 club and many have Harry Von der Horst as owner in 1882, but the newspapers of the time, including the Baltimore Commercial-Advertiser, Baltimore Day, New York Times, and the New York Clipper all agree that Myers’ club resigned and was replaced by the newly created club led by Barnie. The 100% turnover in players is in accord with the 1883 club being a new organization. The 1896 Reach Guide’s obituary of Myers pegs him as owner of the 1882 club, and a June 16, 1894, article in the Sporting News about Barnie states he was sole owner of the 1883 club, later bringing in Von der Horst, although it is not clear if that was in 1883 or later.
Other sources used include:
SABR Triple Play Database
Much of the research for this article was done by Marty Payne.
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