Samuel Jewett Kelly came from a prominent Cleveland family, his grandfather started one of the most prestigious law firms in the city and his father served as a judge and member of the city council. Samuel, born in 1866, became a well-known journalist, and for more than a decade before his death in 1948 he wrote articles for The Cleveland Plain Dealer chronicling Cleveland in the 19th Century.
In 1937 he wrote about Cleveland’s first professional league baseball game on May 11, 1871—The Forest Citys versus the Chicago White Stockings.
The Forest Citys of Cleveland participated in the first game of the newly formed National Association on May 4 in Indiana, shut out 2 to 0 by Bobby Matthews of the Fort Wayne Kekiongas, followed by two road games in Illinois versus the Forest Citys of Rockford (a 12-4 win) and the Chicago White Stockings (a 14-12 loss). Now they were taking the field in front of a crowd of about 2,500 for Cleveland’s first home game.
Kelly described the scene:
“White shirts trimmed in blue, blue hose and belt, high russet leather shoes, big monogram (a crossed “C” and “F”) on the shirt.
“When they walked out on the field and took their places, wearing neatly shaped white cloth caps and blue band and the rim bound with ribbon of the same color, they looked fine pictures of old-time ball players. Many of them wore quite fluffy side-whiskers while some had goatees with mustache.”
When Jimmy Wood and the White Stockings arrived in Cleveland they brought with them James Henry Haynie, a reporter for The Chicago Times and the National Associations recording secretary. Haynie would serve as umpire for the game. (Kelly incorrectly gives his middle initial as “L”)
Some reports said the arrival of Haynie with the Chicago team was a surprise, and a different umpire was expected, others (including Kelly’s recollection 65 years later) said Haynie was one of five potential umpires that forest City manager Charlie Pabor approved. Regardless of the circumstances by which he arrived, Haynie, like many other umpires of the 1870s took a lead role in the game’s outcome.
According to Kelly:
“That first professional game in Cleveland ended unexpectedly in a furor of excitement in the eighth inning, almost a riot.”
The game was tied 6 to 6 through five innings. Kelly said “in the sixth inning the fun began.”
With one out and Chicago at bat Ed Pinkham and George Zettlein walked:
“(Michael ’Bub’) McAtee hit a grounder to (Ezra) Sutton at third (Jim) Carleton at first, cutting McAtee off for the third out, as everybody said. But umpire Haynie said different and Chicago piled up five runs that inning.”
The Forest Citys came to bat in the eighth inning down 18 to 10. According to Kelly:
“There had been five decisions against Cleveland. In the eighth there was one more. It was the last straw. Pabor was declared out at third and after consulting with the officers of the club the Forest Citys agreed to surrender the game as it stood and appeal …Everybody swarmed on the field and talked to their heart’s content”
The game was awarded to the White Stockings–the first forfeited game in the National Association.
Many histories of Cleveland baseball implied that Haynie (universally misidentified with the wrong middle initial—an indication that all relied entirely on Kelly’s 1937 account) was a one-time “plant” intended to steal the game from the Forest Citys. In reality he served as an umpire for several games throughout the season, including Chicago’s game with Fort Wayne two games later, without incident or charges of favoritism.
A “Dispatch” to The Pittsburgh Commercial after the Fort Wayne game, a 14-5 Chicago victory, said:
“There were some doubts about taking (Haynie), owing to his reported partiality shown the Whites at Cleveland, but since the game has closed both clubs have expressed themselves satisfied by his decisions, which were all made promptly.”
The first National Association game in Cleveland was an appropriate beginning for the team. The Forest Citys finished in eighth place in the nine team league with a 10-19 record, and folded after posting a 6-16 record in 1872. There was no big league baseball in Cleveland again until the Blues joined National League in 1879.
James Henry Haynie served in the 19th Illinois Volunteer Regiment in the Army of the Cumberland during the Civil War. After the war he went to work for The Chicago Times where he remained until 1875 when he became foreign editor of The New York Times. He later served as a Paris-based correspondent for several newspapers. He returned to the United States in 1895 and died in Boston in 1912.
Haynie covered the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 for The Times. Twenty years after the fire a reporter for The Chicago Republican named Michael Ahern claimed that he, Haynie and John English, a reporter for The Chicago Tribune had together created the story that the fire was the result of a cow belonging to Catherine O’Leary kicking over a lantern.