Professional Base Ball Article

A clipping from the The Norwood Enterprise newspaper,
January 12, 1899:


    In the last edition of the Enterprise we concluded our article with a touch on the decadence of base running and to take up this ever interesting topic, the good of the game, the few lines this edition devotes to the cause will not go amiss. The game as played to-day as compared to the games of twelve or fourteen years ago, is not so aggressive as in the days of the Giants, Browns, and Anson's favorite team of White Stockings. The game of that period seemed to have more of dash and spirit to it than it has now, and nine-tenths of the player would break a leg to go into second, third or home with the tieing or winning run. Comiskey's team of four-time pennant winners was a gang of base runners, every one of them. They would take chances of sending their suits to the laundry and themselves to the hospital by going into second feet or head first. The Reds then played more aggressive ball and still it was far from what you would call rowdy ball. All old fans know what a finished slider little Hugh Nicol was, and the only slide, Kelly slide. But when it comes to scientific points there is no doubt that the game has progressed wonderfully, in fact, it is too complicated if anything, too many rules, too many chances for kicking, to sneak in, and make life a burden not only for the umpire but the spectators as well. There wants to be more young life infused into the ranks, more hit and run and less signs from the bench to the base runners. Notice the Baltimore's style of playing, the most aggressive and the liveliest in the league, and yet, as I understand, Hanlan gives less orders to his men after they get started to first than any other manager in the league. So should it be. Let the players use their own "thinking machine" and they will display more energy.
    Indianapolis, of the Western league, seems to have its troubles, and the out-look now is not rosey for the team of the city of Brush. Their park has been practically taken away from them by the "city guys" platting a street through the old grounds. President Golf is discouraged and it looks as if they would drop out of the arena. Indianapolis came within one game of winning the pennant last season and they have some good players to release. But the club people need not worry if it takes as long in Indianapolis to push a street through as it does in Norwood. They have several seasons to go on.
    See a small notice in the Post where John B. Day is willing to trade the Jove of the New York's box (Rusie), for little Bert Cunningham, of the Louisvilles. How have the mighty fallen! Five years ago, if any one would have made that proposition he would either have been given a certificate to the Keeley gold cure institution or led over the white bridge. Yet on the face of 1898 returns Cunningham is the best twirler.
    Patsey Tabeau is figuring on winning the league pennant next year with the present team that he has stationed in St. Louis. I would like to see the Clevelands in the city by the big Ead's bridge for the crowds that would turn out to see the scrappy Spiders would be a sight. And, let me tell you right now, with the crowd behind him to do the rooting, something he hardly had this year only on a few occasions, Patsey would make all the teams hustle to beat him out in the big race.
    Nicholas Young, the Aguinaldo of the league, is out in an interview on the standing of the teams in strength, and in his opinion the Boston, Baltimore and Cincinnati teams rank in the order named. Hold on, papa; there will be several cold days before the cry of play ball and "conditions" might change.
    The agitation of the league and the public in favor of more batting is well timed and the Enterprise wants its little say in this respect also. The only way to increase batting (and you may legislate and change your rules all you want, these handicaps will be overcome and mastered by a good player,) is to put more rubber in your ball. Give it more life instead of having the bricks you have now to play with. It will lead to increased batting and more brilliant fielding too. All the writers in the world on base ball, and there are some brilliant ones, have advanced theories; but they are no good unless you put an ounce or two more of life into the ball, so that it can be hit and travel with more speed than it possesses now. Why, to get a ball over an outfielder's head now you have got to have the catapultic power of one of the old Roman engines of war and hit it just so and in just such a certain spot.
    From present indications the twelve club circuit, as at present, will remain, with possibly some shifts of players like the intended coup d'etat of Brooklyn, Baltimore and St. Louis and Cleveland. An eight club circuit would be the only thing and it would boom base ball and kill off all hopeless tail enders. Still, the hen may be on the nest yet. Who knows?
A. M. B.

                                     Who is A. M. B. (the author of this column)?