“Go Back to Old Kentucky”

26 Sep

On June 29, 1897 “Cap” Anson’s Chicago Colts defeated Fred Clarke’s Louisville Colonels by scoring more runs than any team has ever scored in a single game.  The Chicago Tribune said:

“Game is a farce and everybody has a good time except the Colonels.”

The Chicago Inter Ocean said:

“Chicago exterminates Bourbons to the tune of 36 to 7.”

The Louisville Courier-Journal headline put it simply:

“Awful work.”

The Colts scored at least one run in each inning, collected 30 hits, and Louisville committed nine errors.

The Colonels finished in 11th place with a 52-78 record in 1897

The Colonels finished in 11th place with a 52-78 record in 1897

One Chicago fan memorialized the contest with a song, which The Courier-Journal shared with their readers.  The song, said the paper, was “a parody on the song ‘She Was Bred in Old Kentucky;”

Go Back to Old Kentucky

While talking one summer’s day,

With a friend not far away,

About a baseball game

That was coming off that day,

The Colonels and the Colts

Were going to take the holts

On the Diamond Field

And battle for the game.

A man, Fred Clarke, by name,

Young, but who had won great fame,

Had come out to play

With the Kentucky boys.

He had reason to be sad,

For Louisville was bad,

When a hobo in the crowd

Rose up and said:

Chorus

Go back to old Kentucky,

Here the meadow grass is green;

You’re a lot of dub ball-players,

You’re the worst I ever seen,

Go back to old Kentucky

And consider yourself lucky

You got off as light as you did.

Oh! His heeding of advice,

He would not listen to him twice,

And the grounds that day he did go;

There was Clarke and (Charlie) Dexter too,

The game began at half-past two,

And their places in the field they took;

Ritchie was at second base,

With the ball he tried to race.

The ball bounded

And caught him in the eye;

And Clarke fancied he could trace

A little swelling on his face.

As he sat down a lobster in the crowd cried:

(Repeat Chorus)

“Richie” was Ebenezer “Abbie” Johnson, who was occasionally called “Richie” in the press; Johnson was playing second base during the third inning when a ball hit by Anson—The Tribune called it “a viciously driven ball”– took a bad hop and “smashed Johnson in the eye, almost knocking it out.”

Abbie Johnson

Abbie Johnson

The game also included, in the fifth inning, an incident The Tribune called “probably the most ludicrous situation ever seen on a league diamond.”

The Colts led 16 to 1 at the beginning of the inning.  After loading the bases and scoring two runs, catcher Tim Donahue fouled out, and third baseman Bill Everitt grounded out; Jim Connor, the Colts second baseman appeared to score from third on the play, but, The Tribune said:

“When the players all came off the field the fact only two were out became known.  After much searching through his brain pan for and excuse (Umpire Jack) Sheridan took the tally away from Connor and called him out for ‘Cutting third base.’”

Perhaps the first, and only, time a player was called out for “cutting” the base he left from; Sheridan’s call also made for one of the most interesting notations included within a box score.

The Tribune box score included the note: “Connor called out.  No reason assigned.”  The Inter Ocean went with the more sarcastic:  “Connor out because umpire said so.”

The Tribune Box Sore

 

The Inter Ocean Box Score

The Inter Ocean Box Score

 

30 runs or more have only been scored by one team in a single game nine times—eight of them were before 1900—and Chicago is responsible for four; the other three games were in 1876, 1883 and 1883.

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