adventures in baseball archeology: the negro leagues, latin american baseball, j-ball, the minors, the 19th century, and other hidden, overlooked, or unknown corners of baseball history...with occasional forays into other sports
Here’s another example of nearly unreadable microfilm: the Indianapolis Freeman, one of the most important sources for black baseball in the 1910s. This is a box score for a game between the American Giants and Cuban Stars (not the Cuban Giants, as the box score mistakenly has it in one place), printed in the September 22, 1917, issue of the Freeman.
This box score (and much of the rest of 1917) appeared this way in several microfilm readers I tried, so it wasn’t the reader. Maybe the original newsprint was smeared in places. But as I recall (I read this paper several months ago), the microfilm gave the distinct impression of simply having been filmed out of focus—another case of microfilmmalpractice. The quality through 1917 varied—much of it, while not great, is readable, or at least better than the above—but as the reel moved into 1918, it became less and less legible, until I finally gave up.
I’m also reasonably certain that there are multiple versions of these years floating around out there (and it could also be that the original paper copies exist somewhere). If anybody has seen better, legible versions of the 1917 and/or 1918 Freeman, I’d love to hear from you.
Incidentally, Google News Archive has a good run of the Freeman (from 1888 to 1915, it appears).
Anybody who knows better can tell me differently, but as far
as I know there is only a single microfilm edition of the Chicago
Defender.The original copy came
(I believe) from the University of Chicago.Unfortunately, while this is a decent run of the paper, it
is far from complete or pristine.Some entire issues are missing, or are represented by only a couple of
pages (such as July 14 and July 21, 1917).Since the Defender was in those days a weekly paper,
such gaps in the record can have a huge impact.
Then there are problems like this:a full, play-by-play account of an American Giants-Cuban
Stars game (played on June 10, 1917, one of the few games Dick Redding lost all
season) that was mangled in the University of Chicago’s original copy of the
paper.We’re left with only the
first four and a half innings.You
can just make out that Frank Warfield threw out Bill Francis to start the
bottom of the fifth; but what happened to Leroy Grant or Bruce Petway, who
batted after him?
Now, if another library—just one other library—has a run of
the actual, printed-on-paper Chicago Defender, we would stand a very good
chance of being able to fill in the gaps left by the standard microfilm edition—just
as I did with a couple of Cuban Stars games in 1921. But didanybody
else save the paper?It’s true
that probably not that many libraries would have subscribed to and saved
African-American newspapers in the first half of the twentieth century; but
really, no place else, not even in New York City or Philadelphia, or even
somewhere else in Chicago?And
what about the Chicago Defender itself?What little I know about it suggests that black weeklies, due to cost
and space constraints, simply haven’t been able to keep complete archives,
especially from decades ago.
If anybody knows of a library or collection or archive that houses an
honest-to-goodness dead-tree run of the Defender (not just a few
scattered issues, but a stretch of years) from the first three or four decades
of the twentieth century, let me know.
I have always been drawn to stories about Cool Papa Bell. And I have always been repelled by them, too. You know the stories I'm talking about, right? Cool Papa Bell was so fast that he once hit a line drive up the middle and was hit by the ball as he slid into second base. Cool Papa Bell was so fast that he once scored from first on a bunt. Cool Papa Bell was so fast that he would steal second and third on the same pitch. Cool Papa Bell was so fast that managers would play six infielders and let Cool Papa handle the outfield. Cool Papa Bell -- here's the famous one -- was so fast that he could turn out the light and be in bed before the room got dark.
There's something charming about these lines, of course. But there's something phony about them, too. Cool Papa Bell was a real man, flesh and blood, who played in various Negro leagues from the early 1920s to the mid-1940s. He was, by surviving accounts, a breathtakingly fast player who could chase down fly balls all over the park and beat out routine ground balls to shortstop. He hit .300 just about every year, often hit .330, sometimes hit .350. But he did not hit .900, and he did not steal two bases on single pitches with regularity, and in fact most of the sketchy numbers that have been gathered show disappointingly low stolen base totals for Cool Papa throughout his career. The Shades of Glory numbers -- the data gathered by the Baseball Hall of Fame Negro Leagues study -- show Cool Papa with only 144 stolen bases in 865 recorded games.
The Cool Papa Conundrum, as I call it, is to me the toughest part about remembering and celebrating the Negro leagues. On the one hand, these myths and nicknames and stories are so wonderful and poignant and memorable. And on the other hand, they can turn these players into something more or something less than they were. And often they can turn players in something more AND something less than they were at the same time.
When people would ask Buck how fast Cool Papa Bell was, his answer was always the same. “Faster than that,” he would say. Buck spent a lifetime trying to keep alive the memories of men who were denied their chance to play baseball in the major leagues. Sometimes, at the end of his life, I sensed that he worried that people would remember the stories but they would forget the men.
Robert Sengstacke, heir to the founder of the Chicago Defender, has donated what sounds like hundreds of boxes of files to the Chicago Public Library. I wonder what baseball-related artifacts have lain hidden all these years?
Everyone here, I suspect, knows how much I love the Negro Leagues and how much I appreciate what the Baseball Hall of Fame has done to honor those great players who excelled on rock hard diamonds and little towns while America turned away. Everyone, in the end, must believe what they believe, but I have no doubt in my mind that Oscar Charleston, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Martin Dihigo, Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard and others were as great as anyone who came before or since. But the point of this exercise, again, is to get at the heart of the Hall of Fame, and realistically knowing some great Turkey Stearnes stories is fun, but doesn’t help much in the process. We just don’t have enough information about those players.
He’s not trying to claim that Negro Leaguers don’t belong in the Hall of Fame or anything like that (obviously), but rather he’s arguing that there’s no way to use them to help establish standards for the Hall—because all we have are “some great Turkey Stearnes stories.” This pretty much presents, in a nutshell, the conventional wisdom that all our research is dedicated to overthrowing—the notion that the Negro Leagues exist in some hazy netherworld of unverifiable myth, tall tales, gut feelings, subjective judgments. There is, in fact, a vast body of quite verifiable fact and analyzable data waiting for us, locked away in crumbling newspaper files and microfilm spools and old records.
The great task of Negro League researchers is to make it as difficult as possible for sportswriters (especially ones as sympathetic to the Negro Leagues as Poz) to say something like this. We’ll never fully succeed in banishing such assumptions, or putting the records of Negro Leaguers on the same footing (in terms of accuracy and comprehensiveness) as those of major leaguers, but we have to try.
And wouldn’t it be great if you could eventually say of some player, “Well, his career looks a lot like Turkey Stearnes’s—how can you keep him out of the Hall?”
In the old days, newspapers often published several editions a day. I’m not talking about morning and evening papers (which were usually separate titles in any case), but rather different versions of the same paper released throughout the day on a regular schedule, with the contents updated and rearranged, along with extras to cover extraordinary breaking news.
As Nicholson Baker has pointed out in his fine book Double Fold, one effect of the microfilming movement was to more or less eliminate editional variety from our libraries. There’s usually only one microfilmed version of any given newspaper generally available, and when libraries throw out their bound copies of papers in favor of microfilmed versions purchased from UMI or wherever, that newspaper is increasingly represented only by whatever edition was microfilmed. The other versions of the paper are lost.
Negro League history is especially vulnerable to this winnowing process. While some daily newspapers, especially in smaller cities, treated Negro League games as genuine news events, big city papers tended to regard blackball box scores as space fillers, useful in earlier editions, but liable to be cut in later ones as fresher items crowded them out. Since we’re usually left with a single microfilm version of any given newspaper, there’s really no recourse. The box scores that might have been cut are gone, probably forever.
However, I’ve recently discovered that this is not always the case. A May 6, 1922, Negro National League game between the Cleveland Tate Stars and Pittsburgh Keystones appears in one microfilmed edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but not in another. The version that does NOT have the box score was filmed by Bell & Howell (now ProQuest). I don’t know who filmed the other version, the one WITH the box score (it was provided to me by another researcher). A couple of guesses would be the Ohio Historical Society or the Library of Congress. Also, the record for the Plain Dealer in Harvard’s catalog indicates that their version is part of the “Harvard College Library newspaper preservation microfilm program.”
So, at least when it comes to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, it might pay to be aware that if a box score is missing, it might still exist in another microfilm edition. Though it also appears that it might be a little difficult to track down these variants.
A while back I wrote about a couple of Cuban Stars’ box scores from 1921 that are unreadable on the microfilm of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Here’s what they look like:
(Cincinnati Enquirer, May 22, 1921)
(Cincinnati Enquirer, July 9, 1921)
I found these mangled box scores several years ago, and had long assumed that the games were probably not recoverable. The Chicago Defender, which printed many, many NNL box scores that year, did not cover these games; and other Cincinnati papers besides the Enquirer proved impossible to obtain. Eventually, with the help of a magnifying glass and some prodigious squinting on my part, I deciphered the blurry one, though I didn’t think I could really be certain I’d gotten it all correct. But nothing could be done for the July 8 game that had been sliced in half.
The last resort would be to consult actual hard copies of the newspaper. But, as Nicholson Baker ferociously chronicles in Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, the old bound sets of newspapers have been mostly replaced by microfilm, and the hard copies often no longer exist. The set used in making the microfilm is literally destroyed, cut loose from the binding, and the loose pages usually thrown away; worse than this, libraries that buy the microfilm frequently discard their own perfectly good sets. Too often, all that’s left of entire runs of great newspapers is a single microfilm set, endlessly reproduced in library after library. If the microfilm is flawed or missing issues, there’s nothing you can do. Whatever’s gone is simply gone. So I assumed these games (or at least the July 8 one) had been lost forever.
This story, however, has a happy ending. The Cincinnati Public Library, I found out recently, has retained bound volumes of the Enquirer; and through the efforts of reference librarian Marianne Reynolds, who lugged the volumes from the stacks and used a special photocopier to preserve their bindings, these box scores have been rescued. Now a great game by Bernardo Baró (a home run and two “brilliant” ninth-inning, rally-killing catches) and a rare home run by Cubans’ shortstop Matías Ríos, among other events, have been restored to history. For the sake of anyone else who might be flummoxed by the Enquirer microfilm, here they are:
From time to time I’m going to post requests for research help, most often in the hope that somebody might have access to a newspaper I haven’t been able to get hold of or didn’t know existed.
Since I just posted 1921, here are some of the more glaring trouble spots in my research for that year:
CINCINNATI: I have Cincinnati Enquirer box scores for every known NNL game the Cuban Stars played at home. Unfortunately, two of them are unusable. The first, from the May 22 Enquirer for a Chicago Giants / Cuban Stars game played on May 21, was photographed out of focus for the microfilm edition. I can make out most names, and even some numbers (and I know the Giants won), but too much of it consists of blurry, unreadable blobs.
The second is from the July 9 Enquirer, and it’s for another Chicago Giants / Cuban Stars game, played on July 8. Half of this box score is missing from the microfilm edition because the newspaper wasn’t flattened out when it was filmed.
So: if there is anyone who has access to bound hard copies of the Cincinnati Enquirer, I would be immensely grateful if you could take the time to look up these two issues and obtain photocopies of these box scores. I suspect there aren’t too many bound runs of the Enquirer around anymore, but there must be one or two somewhere. Obviously, if anybody has access to another Cincinnati paper (the Post, say, or the Times-Star, which are hard to find), that would be worth checking, too.
**See here for an update (11/27/06) on the missing Giants / Cuban Stars games.**
NEW YORK: As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, other than the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the Chicago Defender, I have found no sources for New York box scores in 1921. The Times,Herald-Tribune, World, and American did not carry Negro League or semipro box scores, as far as I can tell. So any insights on this problem would be greatly appreciated.
DETROIT: There are 15 Stars’ home games for which I lack box scores. You can find the dates in the Standings file. I have only been able to check the Detroit Free Press—if anybody has access to the Detroit Times, which I have never been able to borrow through inter-library loan, that could be a good source. UPDATE 9/12/06: From what I can tell, the Detroit Times only printed line scores and /or brief items on Stars’ games in 1921, although I have only been able to check May and June.
INDIANA: The Indianapolis ABCs often played games against major black teams (especially the Cuban Stars) in various small or medium-sized Indiana towns. In 1921, the ABCs played:
1) the American Giants in Gary, Indiana, on July 9 2) the Monarchs in Anderson, Indiana, on July 16 3) the Cuban Stars in Kokomo, Indiana, on August 25 4) the Cuban Stars in Frankfort, Indiana, on August 26 5) the Detroit Stars in Muncie, Indiana, on August 27 6) the Columbus Buckeyes in Lebanon, Indiana, on September 2
Of course, it’s especially hard to track down newspapers for smaller towns and cities. If anyone can offer help with these, it would be much appreciated.
Also: there are several games played in Indianapolis for which I have found no box scores, most notably the famous 18-to-18 game. I have checked the Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis News, Indiana Daily Times, and Indianapolis World. All or some of the city’s black papers--the Freeman,Recorder, and Ledger--may have been publishing that year, but I have been unable to obtain them.
That’s not everything missing, of course. Check out the “Scores” tab in the 1921 Standings file, where I’ve noted whether or not each known game has a box score, for more missing games.
For anybody able to supply new box scores: I can reciprocate with similar help for a project of yours, if I’m able to (I do have access to two large research libraries and a good number of microfilm newspapers); or else I can send you research I haven’t published here yet (mostly on early 1900s Cuban seasons).
Often people are shocked by the detail of the Negro League statistical compilations I do, especially when fielding statistics or relatively minor categories like sacrifice hits or hit batsmen are included. This comes mainly from two sources: 1) a basic unawareness (completely understandable) of the nature of baseball journalism, particularly the box score, in the earlier twentieth century; and 2) the legend of the Negro Leagues, which paints them as half-mythical enterprises that took place mostly in the realm of tall tales—an image I will have much more to say about in future posts.
I was first drawn into Negro League research when, on a whim, I looked up a few African-American newspapers, and found that there was vastly more material there than I had dreamed possible after reading Robert W. Peterson, John Holway, James Riley, and others, most of whom stressed the poverty and incompleteness of “objective” statistical data, or claimed that it was completely unknowable. When I followed up by looking into some mainstream daily papers, and realized that in the 1920s and before Negro League games were regularly reported in many of them, with box scores that generally surpassed the quality of the boxes in the black weeklies, it really cinched the deal. Realizing that you could count how many wild pitches Bullet Rogan was charged with, or how many times Jud Wilson was hit by a pitch, or that you could actually compile fielding statistics (thus range factors, fielding percentages, etc.) for the reputedly slick-gloved Dick Lundy, fired the imagination far more than any endlessly repeated anecdote or silly tall tale about how fast Cool Papa Bell was.
Anyway—I thought it would be interesting for those who’ve never actually seen Negro League box scores to occasionally post some scans here, maybe talking a little about the issues inherent in analyzing them. Since I just posted 1916 statistics, here’s a sample of box scores from that year.
First, from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, a (white) daily paper, which, for every year I’ve researched in the 1910s and 1920s, featured generally excellent box scores of Giants and Stars games, here’s the box score for a July 27, 1916, game between the St. Louis Giants and (western) Cuban Stars:
Sometimes the boxes are a little approximate about innings pitched, which means you can’t in every instance follow what they say precisely. In the account of this game (which I couldn’t include in the image, due to limitations of my editing program), it is said that Pedroso was driven from the mound in the sixth. Together with the notation that Padrón (this would be Juan, the American lefty, not Luis, the Cuban) pitched 2 1/3 innings, this led me to credit Pedroso with 5 2/3 innings pitched, not six, as the box score gives.
Here’s a game account and box score from the Indianapolis Freeman (8-19-1916), for an August 13 game between the Lincoln Giants and (eastern) Cuban Stars (in separate images):
Note the difference between the line score, which gives the Lincolns 8 runs, and the table, which gives them 10 in the totals line—but the individual players’ runs scored only add up to 9! Typical box score fun and games. In this case the discrepancy originated with Cyclone Joe Williams’s walkoff three-run home run. As the Chicago Defender’s account of the game noted, “As only one run was needed to win the game the hit went for a single.” Plus the official score would have been only 8 to 7, and Williams and the other runner would not be credited with runs scored. This was the rule at the time in the major leagues, and many players “lost” home runs as a result, Babe Ruth among them (he really hit 715 home runs).
I have unapologetically played the revisionist in cases like this (this is actually the only one I’ve confronted so far, that I can remember), for these reasons:
1) There was obviously some disagreement about it at the time, as even then the rule was counter-intuitive: thus the confusion in the Freeman’s runs scored column.
2) There was no governing body to rule on such questions, since no Negro League actually existed. There was no “official” score, only the numbers and rulings the newspapers came up with; and they were simply (albeit unevenly) applying common practice.
3) Most importantly, the whole point of recovering Negro League statistics is to characterize as accurately as possible what happened; and Williams hit a three-run home run, not a single. Especially when you consider the smallness of the samples involved, taking away his home run could result in his achievements and abilities being badly misunderstood.
Lastly, I thought I’d post a sample of one of the play-by-play accounts published in both the Defender and Freeman, just to give you an idea of what they looked like. This is from an account of an American Giants/ABCs game in the September 2, 1916, Defender:
In late June, 1921, Rube Foster’s Chicago American Giants and the Indianapolis ABCs, managed by C.I. Taylor, engaged in a bizarre contest that became something of a legend among Negro League historians. Here’s one of the earlier passages about the game that I know about, from Dick Clark and John Holway’s article, “Charleston No. 1 Star of 1921 Negro League,” a statistical compilation of the 1921 Negro National League published in the Baseball Research Journal in 1985 (page 64):
For example, in a game against Indianapolis in June the Giants were down, 18-0, so Foster threw away all the books. He ordered his “rabbits” to lay down 11 bunts, including six squeeze plays in a row. Torriente blasted a grand-slam and catcher George Dixon hit another as the Giants scored nine runs in the eighth and nine more in the ninth to gain an 18-18 tie!
In one game against the ABCs, Chicago was losing 18-0 after seven innings, and Rube ordered his “race horses” to lay down 18 bunts in a row. Cristobal Torriente, the only slugger on the team, blasted a grand slam, and George Dixon another. The Giants scored nine runs in the eighth and nine more in the ninth to end in a tie.
In a much talked-about game on June 26, 1921, in Indianapolis, the ABCs were ahead of the American Giants 10-0 to start the eighth inning. The Giants chalked up nine runs in the top of the eighth, making the score 10-9. The ABCs responded confidently by putting eight runs on the board themselves in the bottom of the eighth, making the score 18-9 to start the ninth. In a move said to be “demonstrative” of Rube Foster’s coaching style and genius, in the eighth and ninth innings he ordered 11 batters in a row to bunt, executed six squeeze plays and allowed slugger Cristobal Torriente to knock a grand slam, and somehow the Giants knotted the score at 18-all in the ninth inning. The bizarre game was called on account of darkness with the score tied at 18 and the hometown fans were “sickened.”
The details shift from writer to writer (and from one Holway piece to another); and I have always been confused about the lesson we are supposed to learn about Foster. Was it that he made his teams so proficient at bunting that he could engineer big innings with what’s usually understood to be a small-ball strategy? If so, what about the two grand slams, which by themselves drove in nearly half the 18-run outburst? Patrick Rock, who compiled the 1923 Negro National League Yearbook for Replay Games (one the best and most thoroughly researched books ever written on the Negro Leagues, by the way, despite being issued only in conjunction with a board game), has responded to the bizarre and conflicting accounts of this game by speculating that it never happened at all, that it’s a sort of Negro League urban legend.
Well, it did happen. I was able to find reports on it in five newspapers: the Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis News, Indiana Daily Times, Chicago Defender, and Chicago Daily Tribune. Its date, however, was June 28, 1921, as confirmed by the four daily newspapers here, which all report the game in their June 29 issues as occurring “yesterday.”
My original ambition was to unearth as many sources as possible and create a definitive account of the game. The latter hasn’t proven possible; one major reason is that none of the newspapers I consulted printed a box score. Another is that I haven’t been able to get hold of Indianapolis’s African-American newspapers for 1921 (the Freeman,Recorder, and Ledger may have all been publishing at the time—if anybody has access to these papers [perhaps at the Indiana Historical Society?], drop me a line!).
I wasn’t able to piece together the true story of the 18-18 game; but I thought I’d go ahead and post the brief game stories and line scores I did find, which, taken together, tell a somewhat different story than the one we’ve read in history books.
It turns out that there are, essentially, two versions of the game: one reported in the Chicago papers, which became the basis for the later legend of Rube’s great bunt-driven comeback; and another one in the Indianapolis papers. For reasons that will be obvious when you read the articles, it would not be unreasonable to guess that the source for the Chicago story was the American Giants’ camp, while the Indianapolis papers based theirs on partisan ABCs’ sources.
First, let’s have the Chicago side of the story.
From the Chicago Daily Tribune, June 29, 1921:
AMERICAN GIANTS IN TIE.
Indianapolis, Ind., June 28.—The American Giants staged a sixteen run rally off eleven bunts, six successive squeeze plays, and Dixon and Tonchetti’s home runs with bases full, and held A. B. C. to an 18 to 18 tie.
American Giants…0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9 9—18 24 2 A. B. C………….......6 0 4 0 0 0 0 8 0—18 20 1 Batteries—Johnson, Brown and Williams, Dixon; Jefferies, McClure, Mackey and Powell.
From the Chicago Defender, July 2, 1921 (the Defender was a weekly paper):
The heavy downpour of rain caused the Monday’s game to be postponed and today’s [Tuesday’s] game was a humdinger when it came to staging a rally. Going to the bat in the first half of the eighth inning, with the score 10 to 0 against them, the Chicago gang scored nine runs only to have the A. B. C.’s come back in their half and drive Brown off the mound by scoring eight, leaving the score 18 to 9. Foster’s crew went to the bat in the ninth and tied the score by shoving nine more runs across, completely upsetting the home boys defense before the last man was put out. Tom Johnson was driven to the showers in the first inning. Tom Williams shut the Indianapolis lads out in their half of the ninth. In all, Rube Foster stood in the coacher’s box near third, causing his men to successfully bunt eleven times in those two wild eighth and ninth innings, pull of six perfect squeeze plays, coupled with Dixon’s and Torrenti’s home runs with the bases full, and saved the day. The home crowd was sick, but the followers here of the Chicago men were a happy bunch tonight. The score:
Am. Giants…..0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9 9 18 24 2 A. B. C………...6 0 4 0 0 0 0 8 0 18 20 1 Batteries: Johnson, Brown, and Williams and Dixon; Jefferies and McClure, Mackey and Powell.
And now, the Indianapolis side.
From the Indianapolis Star, June 29, 1921:
A.B.C.S AND GIANTS PLAY NINE-INNING 18-18 DRAW
Every description of weird baseball was played at Washington park yesterday when the A. B. C.s and Chicago American Giants slugged for nine innings to an 18-to-18 tie, darkness halting the farce in the Giants’ half of the inning immediately after they had knotted the count with three runs. Kenyon, Holloway and B. Taylor were the heavy hitters of the A. B. C.s, Kenyon twice hitting triples with the bases loaded. Tottienti of the Giants poled out four hits, including a triple and a home run. Score:
Giants…...0 0 0 0 4 0 2 9 3—18 21 4 A. B. C.s..1 0 0 6 0 2 1 8 0—18 15 4 Batteries—McClure and Mackey, Powell; T. Johnson and D. Brown, Dixon.
From the Indianapolis News, June 29, 1921:
RUNS, HITS AND ERRORS GALORE—THEN DARKNESS
The A. B. C.’s and the Chicago Giants presented a nine-act farce at Washington park yesterday afternoon. The runs made during the game, totaling thirty-six, were evenly divided. The hits, and there were thirty six of them, twenty-one going to the Giants and fifteen to the A. B. C.’s, were of almost every variety. The errors, four being accredited to each club, cost the Giants a few more runs than the locals.
Darkness came along and halted the affair just after the visitors had pushed across three runs in the ninth, tying the score.
Giants……..0 0 0 0 4 0 2 9 3—18 21 4 A. B. C.’s..1 0 0 6 0 2 1 8 0—18 15 4 Batteries—McClure and Mackey, Powell; T. Johnson and D. Brown, Dixon.
From the Indiana Daily Times, June 29, 1921:
A. B. C.s and Giants in Series Wind-up Game
Yesterday’s affair was a terrible slugging match, with all the infielders wishing they could wear masks and catchers’ gloves and all the outfielders wishing they had brought their bicycles along. The score finally ended at 18 to 18, with darkness putting a merciful end to all the hitting and running.
Kenyon, Holloway and B. Taylor hit hard and far for the A.s, and Torrienti lived up to his reputation as the Babe Ruth of the colored league by slamming out four hits, which included a homer and a triple. McClure stood all the bombardment for Taylor’s crew, while T. Johnson weathered the storm for the Giants.
The Chicago Defender, devoting the most space to the game, provides the most details, and has clearly shaped historians’ accounts of the game in casting it as virtually a victory for Foster and the American Giants (while Holway gives no source, Debono footnotes only the Defender). The 11 bunts and six squeeze plays mentioned in historians’ accounts certainly come from the Defender, as well as the emphasis on Foster’s role.
The Indianapolis papers, on the other hand, emphasize the ABCs’ accomplishments (Kenyon’s two bases-loaded triples surely counterbalancing the American Giants’ two grand slams), and say nothing about the American Giants’ bunting tactics. In fact, they characterize the game as an error-ridden slugfest, and provide an entirely different account of Chicago’s run scoring—reporting it as spread through the game, instead of concentrated into two nine-run innings at the end. According to the Indy story, the American Giants entered the top of the eighth trailing 10 to 6, not 10 to 0 (or 18 to 0, for that matter!); and it emphatically states that the Giants scored but three runs in the top of the ninth, not nine. And while the Chicago story has Tom Williams coming in to put down the ABCs without a run in the bottom of the ninth, according to Indy papers the game was called immediately after Chicago tied it up at 18-18 in the top of the inning—meaning that Indianapolis never had a chance to win in its half.
It should also be mentioned that, while the Tribune reports “six successive squeeze plays” (which the Defender does not), not one of these papers reports 11 (much less 18) consecutive bunts.
It’s not possible now to decide whether the Indianapolis or Chicago version is more reliable; my rather lame take on it at the moment is that both provide useful and unique details, and that the truth probably lies somewhere in between. The Chicago version gives us more pitchers (Jim Jeffries as the ABCs starter, and Tom Williams as the Giants’ closer, both unmentioned in the Indy papers); the Indy version gives us Kenyon’s batting details, and more information on Torriente’s hitting (four hits, and a triple unmentioned by Chicago reports). I have no idea why there’s such a discrepancy in the Giants’ run-scoring by innings and in the teams’ hit and error totals (partly an issue of scoring, but these are unusually large differences). I have no idea whether or not the bottom of the ninth was actually played. At some point, maybe we’ll be able to resolve these questions.
NOTE: Check out the wacky misspellings of Torriente’s name (Tonchetti?). It gives just a hint of all the contortions Latino names were put through in the American press at this time.