“A magnificent ‘Double Event.’”

10 May

“Bailey’s Monthly Magazine of Sport’s and Pastimes” was published in London. In 1893, cricketer turned writer Frederick Gale told of his ‘Two Days’ Sport at Chicago,’ during the summer of 1893.

Gale

He had spent most of his time in Chicago at the World’s Columbia Exposition, except for one day at the American Derby at Washington Park—the 1893 American Derby’s $50,000 purse is said by several sources to be the second highest of any 19th Century race.

And on another day he attended a baseball game:

“The admission was half a dollar, which included a seat in the stand—and the stands were pretty full. For fear any readers do not understand baseball, I will describe it in the fewest words. If the reader does not understand rounders, he had better put this magazine down and go smoke a cigar.”

He compared the equipment:

“The only difference between baseball and rounders is that the bat is much heavier and stronger. The ball is much heavier than a rounder ball, though lighter than a cricket ball.”

And the “features” of the game:

“The ‘pitcher’(the ‘feeder’ as we called him in rounders) throws the ball as hard as he possibly can, and the man whom we called ‘behind’ at the rounders puts on a mask and wears a padded jerkin, as if he were made up for ‘Falstaff.” The bases are, I believe thirty yards apart, and four in number, and each base is guarded by a fieldsman, to whom the outfielders throw the ball. The fieldsmen do not throw at the batsmen, as we did at rounders, but are practically run out in various ways. I only tell you the principles of the game, without the details.”

Gale had attended a game in England during Spalding’s world tour four years earlier and said, “We admired the wonderful throwing and catching of the baseballers, which were excellent.”  But the admiration was where, “we left baseball, and there it is likely to remain.”

Watching a game in Chicago was more interesting:

“The excitement is tremendous. The betting, mostly in small sums, not exceeding dollars and half-dollars in friendly contests, such as I saw, is constant. I hear of large bets in very big matches, but I know nothing of my own knowledge.”

The second West Side Grounds which opened less than two months before Gale’s visit to Chicago

Gale described the most exciting moment of the game:

“The enthusiasm is catching. I shouted myself hoarse at a magnificent ‘double event.’ It occurred thusly: A fieldsman, very deep out, caught a tremendous ‘skier,’ turned round, and saw a man leave his base; threw, from what seemed to me an impossible distance, right into a fieldsman’s hands, at one of the bases; the fieldsman caught it and ran the man out.

“I daresay I have called things by wrong names; but I don’t care if I have made the game intelligible to cricketers who admire fielding.”

Gale concluded baseball suited the country:

“I think the Americans are quite right to enjoy and encourage baseball. It requires much pluck and skill. They say ’We are a busy people and cannot stand three-day cricket matches as you do in England. We want about three hours of sport and excitement and get them.’ I say, ‘Long live baseball in America!’”

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