Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On This Date: Moorhead Awarded Pennant, New Schedule

July 31, 1897 - Officials from each team met at the Columbia hotel in Moorhead to nail down details concerning the future of the Red River Valley League. A newly constructed league would play through September 11, with the existing Wahpeton-Breckenridge franchise being transferred to Crookston. The four teams re-committed to finishing the season by putting up $50 in forfeit money, helping ensure all the franchises would finish the season. The schedule would kick off August 2, with Fargo playing Moorhead in a six game series (three games in each city), and Grand Forks battling Crookston in the same six game format. As for the previously constructed league, Moorhead was awarded the pennant after building a large lead in the standings.

Meanwhile, in their final game in Wahpeton-Breckenridge, the Methodists hosted Fargo for an afternoon contest. The Divorcees put twelve hits on the board, while W-B drew six walks off Fargo pitcher Fred Steele. Third baseman George Keas went 4 for 4 (all singles) with a sacrifice fly for the visiting team. The game was tied 5-5 in the eighth inning when play was suspended to allow Fargo to catch the train back home. It was an inauspicious ending to a very eventful week for the league. The coming days would hold more surprises for the troubled RRVL.

Sunday Argus August 1, 1897 p.8 "All Fixed Up"

Monday, July 30, 2012

On This Date: League Instability Widespread

July 30, 1897 - The Forum, in their Friday evening edition, published an interesting piece of news from the paper across the river, the Moorhead News. The article highlighted just how unstable the league situation had become by the end of July. Wahpeton-Breckenridge was not the only team in trouble. In recent meetings, re-organization of the league was a topic on the table, but not solely because the W-B franchise was struggling. The News revealed rumors that both Fargo and Grand Forks had withdrawn their forfeit money from the league's coffers. Though this fact was rebuffed by the Moorhead daily, other problems remained for the league. The transfer of the W-B franchise to Crookston was still in question, but a change needed to be made. The current arrangement for the team in the southern Valley was no longer sustainable. W-B had withdrawn their forfeit deposit in order to keep their gates open, but this act of desperation couldn't change the fact that the franchise was failing.

Further trouble was brewing with the Moorhead franchise. The Barmaids were 25-10 and in first-place in the RRVL - in fact, they were the only team even above .500. Despite the franchise's clear superiority, attendance was lagging. In a late-July home contest for Moorhead, those identified as fans of the home team accounted for less than one-fourth of the total gate receipts. The attendance total of Moorhead supporters was regularly matched or outnumbered by the visiting team's fans. Struggling to break even, folding the franchise was not outside the realm of possibilities. Moorhead's Manager Bodkin and other league officials held out hope that a new schedule and a franchise in Crookston would keep them playing in 1897.

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican July 30, 1897 p.4 "Moorhead's Tale of Woe" (citing the Moorhead News)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

On This Date: Fargo Playing Better Baseball

July 29, 1897 - Fargo 14, Wahpeton-Breckenridge 2. Behind the superior twirling of Oscar Peterson, who surrendered just five hits in nine innings, the Divorcees enjoyed a big Thursday afternoon win. Shortstop Bill Zink had three hits, including a double and a triple, and third baseman George Keas had a pair of two-base hits for the Fargo club. Hartman, Hopkins, and Josh Reilly had two hits each, as did Peterson, who helped his own cause by going two-for-four hitting in the nine hole.

Frustration surfaced again for Wahpeton-Breckenridge after the contest. When the Fargo nine recorded the final out to end the game, W-B first baseman James Hart showed his displeasure by charging onto the field and assaulting Lyons, the game's umpire. The reason for the outburst was not clear. It was yet another low moment for the troubled franchise.

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican July 30, 1897 p.4 "Slugged The Umpire"

Thursday, July 26, 2012

On This Date: "Where Were We At?"

July 26, 1897 - Player/manager Ed Corbett returned from league talks in Crookston to tally two hits batting cleanup for the Methodists, who won the series finale against Fargo 6-1.  Oliver Berg pitched a great game, going nine innings and allowing just one run on four hits. Berg's fielders backed up his stellar performance with their own solid effort, not committing a single error just a day after bungling 12 chances.

In Grand Forks, the Senators dropped a doubleheader to Moorhead, as the Barmaids put aces Bob Brush and Pike Mullaney on the mound. With the two losses, Grand Forks fell further behind the first-place Moorhead club, and now only led W-B by a half game in the standings. Fargo was still in the league's cellar, despite playing better in recent weeks.

"Where Were We At?" and "Moorhead Wins Two" Fargo Forum and Daily Republican July 27, 1897 p.4

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On This Date: Sunday Exhibition Slaughter

July 25, 1897 - Unfortunately for Fargo, their Sunday afternoon slaughter of Wahpeton-Breckenridge didn't count in the standings. Still, the Divorcees 22-5 exhibition win over the Methodists must have been satisfying. Fargo continued to languish in last place in the RRVL, despite playing better baseball in recent weeks. Sunday's game was a wild, error-filled contest, with the teams combining for a shockingly awful 21 errors. It is hard to fathom how so many fielding miscues could occur in a minor league game. Charles C. Alexander's biography on Ty Cobb provides some insight. He highlights several aspects of baseball at the turn of the century that were unique to that era. Though much of baseball has remained unchanged in the 115 years since the Red River Valley League of 1897, one key item of contrast is found in the equipment. The fielders worked with gloves that Alexander describes as "flimsy little devices", grossly ineffective when compared with today's options. Alexander also notes that scorekeepers of games didn't give the players any breaks despite the primitive equipment. Furthermore, the lack of regularly replaced baseballs made fielders throw with less accuracy, and the pitchers didn't help with their notorious doctoring of the ball. The playing fields didn't aid fielders either, and were not tended to by full-time grounds crews. Uneven ground was more the rule than the exception. Perhaps for the RRVL, the best example of a less than ideal playing field would be the home park of the Grand Forks club. On this field, the Senators and their opponents had to contend with a cement bicycle track that was part of the baseball diamond.

Fargo and Wahpeton-Breckenridge were slated to play the final game of their series Monday afternoon. Oscar Peterson was the starting pitcher for the Divorcees, and the Methodists countered with Oliver Berg. Unfortunately for Ed Corbett and his team, the end of the series would not mark the end of trouble for the W-B franchise. Corbett spent the day in Crookston discussing the possible transfer of his team. According to the Forum, there was considerable excitement about a new rivalry between Crookston and Grand Forks. The team's transfer from W-B to Crookston was scheduled for August 2.

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican July 26, 1897 p. 4 "An Awful Score"
Charles C. Alexander Ty Cobb Oxford University Press, 1984, p. 29-30.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

On This Date: Quitters Never Win, Except Today

July 24, 1897 - Wahpeton-Breckenridge soundly defeated Fargo a day after manager Ed Corbett was ejected and marched his players off the field, forfeiting the game. The Divorcees managed just "three measly singles", and a five run outburst in the fourth inning was all the Methodists needed. Southpaw Gus Munch started on the mound for Fargo, but was "as wild as a March hare", walking six batters and throwing wild four times in the 9-1 defeat. Jack Murphy, a day after his release by the Fargo club, received a warm greeting from the Fargo fans in his first game with Wahpeton-Breckenridge.

"Base Ball: Fargo Easily Defeated by Wahpeton Yesterday." Sunday Argus July 25, 1897 p. 8

*Oh, and Amelia Earhart was born July 24, 1897!

Monday, July 23, 2012

On This Date: Corbett Boils Over Under the Pressure

July 23, 1897 - It certainly wasn't a good week for Ed Corbett. With rumors of his Wahpeton-Breckenridge team's impending collapse becoming stark reality, Corbett was not ready for another loss. But in the late afternoon on Friday the 23rd, his team trailed Fargo 4-2 in the eighth inning. A third-strike called on W-B second baseman Extrom sent Corbett over the edge. The Methodist's manager charged onto the field, and with some choice words, angrily berated the game's umpire O'Donnell for the call. The ump ejected Corbett, who was so frustrated by this point that he took his team with him and forfeited the game.

Interestingly, on this same date, Fargo outfielder Jack Murphy was released and elected to sign with the turbulent W-B franchise. The prevailing belief was that the transfer of the team to Crookston would succeed within the week, and that the club would finish the year playing in northern Minnesota. After all, Crookston had expressed strong interest in fielding a team to begin the 1897 RRVL season, but the league couldn't find a sixth team to join. Officials wanted to keep the league's membership at an even number in order to ensure a balanced schedule. With potentially thin profit margins for the teams of the RRVL, avoiding scheduled days off was a priority. As a result, Crookston was left on the outside looking in.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

On This Date: Steele Loses, Wahpeton Saga Continues, Wilmot Fired

July 22, 1897 - Fred Steele fared better in his second start for the Divorcees, but still ended up on the losing end of a 8-3 game against Wahpeton-Breckenridge. Steele, the 21-year-old pitcher from Neola, IA, had a terrible debut for Fargo against Moorhead on June 12th, giving up six runs and lasting just two innings. On this day, Steele was a bit erratic, throwing a wild pitch, walking six, and hitting a batter, but he and the Fargo club entered the ninth inning tied 3-3. The final inning was disastrous,though,  as Steele gave up four hits and the team committed four errors.

Though Wahpeton-Breckenridge certainly enjoyed their come from behind win on the Fargo grounds, it still appeared that all was not well for the Methodist franchise. The uncertainty surrounding the future of the W-B team was addressed publicly by Manager Ed Corbett. In the Forum, (July 23) Corbett denied rumors that the Methodists were to be transferred to Crookston to finish out the season, and reasserted clearly that his team was perfectly stable. The coming days would prove otherwise.

Also on this date, Walter Wilmot, player/manager of the Minneapolis Millers of the Western League, was relieved of his duties. The Forum cited the Minneapolis Journal, who accused Wilmot of "poor fielding, poor batting, and worse management in releasing good players." A rumored theory was that Wilmot was trying to devalue the franchise to allow his old friend and Chicago Colt manager Cap Anson to take ownership of the team at a discount rate. Throughout 1897, Anson had worked with Wilmot in the development of a quasi-farm system between Chicago of the National League, Minneapolis of the Western League, and the teams of Red River Valley League. This working relationship is what led Deacon Phillippe and other Western League players to the valley in 1897. With Minneapolis struggling in the standings after some questionable personnel decisions, Wilmot quickly fell out of favor with the Miller magnates. Though Wilmot would return to the Minneapolis franchise the following season, Anson moved on to manage the National League's New York Giants, ruining any future hope of a farm system involving teams in the Red River Valley.* Without big-league backing, the RRVL never got off the ground for the summer of 1898.

*Wilmot, who played six years for Anson in Chicago, spent 35 games as a player for Cap's Giants team in 1898.

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican July 23, 1897 p.4
"Lost in the Ninth" and "After Wilmot" 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

On This Date: Rain in Fargo, Storm Brewing in Wahpeton

July 21, 1897 - Wahpeton-Breckenridge received a message to stay home and not travel to Fargo for a series with the Divorcees. The field conditions were still poor from a recent rain. In a strange way, this may have been a blessing for the W-B team. Whispers were appearing in the local papers hinting that the Methodists were in financial trouble. Saving the team boarding costs for the night was fortunate in this light. Interestingly, the next day, the team would take a freight train to Fargo to begin the rain-delayed series. This method of transportation may very well have been a cost-cutting measure, a cheaper option compared with booking a passenger car for the players. In the coming days, the valley would come to learn just how desperate the situation had become for Manager Ed Corbett's club.

The folks in Crookston apparently were downwind of the whispers. The Forum reported that the city was positioning itself to join the RRVL for the remainder of 1897. By July 25, serious talks were in the works to transfer the Wahpeton-Breckenridge franchise north to Crookston, where the team would finish the season.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Few Reasons Why Baseball Was Better Then

There are plenty of things to like about baseball today. Anywhere we are, we can see our favorite major league team in action on television or online. The detailed statistics and rich history of the game make for great conversation and analysis. Baseball is still played outside on beautiful summer days and evenings. Discrimination doesn't keep certain players out of the big leagues. Despite all this, there is something to be said about the way baseball used to be. I would enjoy it if these aspects of the 1897 game were still prevalent today:

1) Pitchers pitched the whole game, nearly all of the time. None of this 5 1/3 innings and go to the bullpen stuff. You finished what you started. And you didn't get five days off between starts, either, despite pitching more innings per start. A three man rotation was a luxury. And no one knew what a pitch count was.

2) They only used a few baseballs per game, at the most. Going through three baseballs in one game was relatively unusual. Today, going through three baseballs in one inning is remarkably rare. The thing that might drive me the most crazy about major league baseball today concerns pitches in the dirt. Watch an inning on television, and you will see what I mean. When the baseball hits the dirt, its life in the big leagues is over. It is thrown out of play, automatically. They say it has something to do with the dirt not really being dirt and scuffing up the ball much more than natural stuff. (However, I will concede that one benefit of today's approach is it allows for fans to keep foul balls as souvenirs.)

3) Nearly all players, even major leaguers, played mostly for love of the game and not for insane sums of money. Fortunately, this is a characteristic that has endured in most minor leagues, and I think it adds a unique feel to those games. There are too many major league players who don't seem to really mind if they strikeout or give up a home run. They sometimes lack that competitive, scrappy edge that players of old had in abundance. And they seem less like "regular guys", which has always been a strength of baseball.

4) The players faced more adversity, in general. Long train rides, no air conditioning, frequent doubleheaders, no night games, no guaranteed contracts, primitive facilities and equipment, and the list goes on.

These are obviously fairly subjective items, but these are some of the things that I think baseball could benefit from still having. In a perfect world, perhaps.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On This Date: Western League Notes (Post #50!)

Thank you all for reading! This is post #50!

July 18, 1897 - Though the Fargo team began a stretch of three scheduled days off, there was still baseball news of interest to the local fans. The Forum reported on Deacon Phillippe's first start on his return to Minneapolis, giving his Red River Valley fans a glimpse of his work in the Western League. The paper's account said Phillippe pitched well, giving up only eight hits, and went on to blame Minneapolis second baseman Fred Roat's two errors for the loss. Not entirely surprisingly, the Forum account was a bit biased, omitting the fact that Phillippe gave up five runs. However, according to the game box score, none of the runs allowed were earned. The Miller fans were likely pleased with the Deacon's performance.

On the same day, player/manager Connie Mack's Milwaukee Brewers, also of the Western League, won a 15 inning marathon against the Indianapolis Indians by a score of 4-3. Born Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy, Mack is best known for his incredible longevity as a major league manager. He went on to win 3728 games in the major leagues, managing the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901-1950. The "Tall Tactician" was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937, while still a manager, and would not retire from his post with the A's until age 87. Remarkably, Mack began his playing career during Chester A. Arthur's presidency and retired during Harry S. Truman's presidency. Truman was born in 1884, the year Mack began his professional baseball career as a player.

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican July 20, 1897 p.4 "Doing Good Work"
Box score information from The Sporting Life July 24, 1897 p.15
Connie Mack's statistics found at http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=mack--001con

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On This Date: Fargo Pounded, Protested Game Settled

July 17, 1897 - Fargo failed to capture a series win against Grand Forks, surrendering 14 runs to the Senators in the finale of a four game home stand. Oscar Peterson was on the mound for Fargo, and struggled mightily, allowing eleven to score while recording only nine outs. The knockout punch for Peterson was a mammoth three-run home run smashed by Sid Adams to begin the fourth inning. The young southpaw Gus Munch came in to relieve Peterson and pitched well, striking out seven in six innings of work. Fargo had to settle for a 2-2 series split with the Senators.

Some bad blood between first baseman Peaceful Valley Brown and Umpire Arthur Lyons came to the surface in the eighth inning. Presumably a rift had developed between the two while Lyons was playing for Fargo early in the season. With Brown at-bat, Lyons made a strike call that Brown clearly disagreed with. Later in the at-bat, Brown slashed a ball down the third-base line that got by Grand Forks third baseman Joe Marshall. The problem for Brown was that the ball had failed to stay fair, and the general consensus was that Lyons had made the correct call in ruling the hit foul. Nonetheless, Brown was angered by the call and barked at Lyons for some time before being ejected. Some fans who had a bad angle on the play also gave ol' "Tige" an earful, and one crank was rowdy enough for a policeman to be summoned. The Divorcees could not afford to lose Brown, since Deacon Phillippe had just returned to Minneapolis, Fred Steele was playing in Sheldon, and Catcher Hayes hadn't yet arrived from Omaha. Luckily for Fargo, team captain George Keas was able to convince Lyons to let Brown remain in the game. It wasn't much help for Fargo, though, who already trailed by double digits at the time of the ejection, and they lost 14-3.

The game wasn't a total loss for the Divorcees. Fargo's nomad second baseman, Josh Reilly, apparently had made quite an impression on the local fans by mid-July. Before one of Reilly's at-bats, a female admirer gave him a bouquet of flowers as a sign of appreciation. Reilly doubled in the at-bat.

Also on July 17, RRVL officials and managers met to discuss the matter of several protested games. While two decisions regarding protests were referred to National League President Nick Young for further review, the league board did rule on one game. The result of the June 26 Fargo vs. Moorhead match up featuring Umpire Tupper's egregious missed call was thrown out by the board, and the game was set to be replayed at a later date (see "It Was Larceny" for more details on the June 26 contest). 

Sunday Argus July 18, 1897 p. 8 "It Was Awful" 
Fargo Forum and Daily Republican July 19, 1897 p.4 "We Were Easy"

Monday, July 16, 2012

On This Date: Phillippe Pitches Final Game for Fargo

July 16, 1897 - Charles "Deacon" Phillippe played his final game with Fargo, as the Minneapolis Millers of the Western League had called the right-hander back to their club. Phillippe said his farewell to Fargo by giving the home fans a victory over Grand Forks. He went nine innings for the Divorcees, surrendering seven hits and five runs. In the ninth inning, Fargo was down 5-3 and had two men on base, but were down to their final out. Josh Reilly stepped to the plate and blasted a triple against the left field fence, scoring two men to tie the game. Bill Zink followed with the game-winning single that sent the Fargo fans into a frenzy. Though the Deacon hadn't pitched great, his teammates helped give him a great sendoff with the walk-off win.

The Forum lamented Phillippe's departure and correctly predicted he "...will be a world beater someday." The pitcher took the No. 4 rail the next night to Minneapolis and rejoined the Millers. Despite not making his major league debut until age 26 (with Louisville in 1899) Phillippe would go on to win 189 big league games.

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican July 17, 1897 p.25 "A Garrison Finish"

Sunday, July 15, 2012

On This Date: Fargo Rebounds, Defeats Senators

Fargo enjoyed redemption in game two of their four game series with Grand Forks, winning 6-3 to even the series at a game a piece. Shortstop Bill Zink was the star for the Fargo nine, pounding out a home run and a double, while pitcher Oscar Peterson surrendered just three hits in nine innings of work. Peterson struck out the side in the fifth inning and added three hits of his own batting ninth in the lineup for the Divorcees. Deacon Phillippe showed his versatility and athleticism by manning right field for Fargo, helping in the absence of the team's outfielder Hopkins, who continued to recover from an injury sustained three days earlier against Moorhead. The umpire for the contest was Arthur "Tige" Lyons, who would officiate all four games of the series.

Standings published by the Forum

Team                      W-L          PCT
1. Moorhead          18-8           .692
2. Grand Forks      16-13         .552
3. Wahp-Breck      12-16         .429
4. Fargo                 10-19         .345

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican July 16, 1897 p.4 "Easy For Us"

Saturday, July 14, 2012

On This Date: Aces Duel in Fargo

The RRVL game in Fargo on July 14th featured two great pitching performances, as Fargo put Deacon Phillippe on the mound, while Grand Forks countered with Charlie Hutton. Phillippe pitched very well, allowing just ten hits and two runs and going the distance for the Divorcees. But Hutton was better, and Fargo suffered its sixth shutout of the season, despite two hits each from Peaceful Valley Brown and Reilly Green. A run in the first and a run in the eighth were all the Senators needed to take down the rival Divorcees in the opener of a four game series.

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican - July 15, 1897 p.4 "Shut Out Again"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On This Date: Munch Mows Down Moorhead

July 11, 1897 - Gus Munch held the Barmaids to just four hits and Peaceful Valley Brown stole two bases and scored twice as the Divorcees took a 6-1 exhibition win. Moorhead had Charles Lamont on the mound, and he struggled, walking five and uncorking three wild pitches before he was removed in favor of Andy Anderson after just two innings of work. Surprisingly, despite Lamont's wildness, Fargo managed just two runs in the first two innings. The Barmaids, who started former Divorcee Charles Jahnke in center field, were also sloppy in the field. The team had seven defensive miscues, led by Bob Brush's three errors at second base.

Interestingly, Bob Brush would be the only Moorhead player from the 1897 team to ever play in the major leagues. He appeared in two games for the Boston Doves of the National League in 1907, going hit-less in two at bats. The Doves finished 47 games behind the Chicago Cubs, who won 107 games and swept the Detroit Tigers four games to none in the World Series. That same year, thirty-five year old Charles Deacon Phillippe won 14 games for the second place Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League, who finished 17 games behind the Cubs.

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican July 12, 1897 p.4

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On This Date: A One-Hop Home Run

In a July 10th game between Fargo and Grand Forks at the Senators' YMCA field, Sid Adams of the home team accomplished an interesting feat. In the first inning, he sent a sky-high drive into right field off of Deacon Phillippe. Fargo's right fielder Green didn't get to it in time, and the ball bounced off the bicycle track inconveniently located within the ball field. The baseball found its way over the right field fence and Adams was awarded a home run! Three runs scored on the unfortunate bounce, and would be the only runs earned off of Phillippe all day. Disappointingly for Fargo, they could not figure out Grand Forks pitcher Charlie Hutton, managing just three hits in nine innings and the Divorcees fell 3-0. In his dominant complete game shutout, Hutton struck out eight and walked none.

"BASE BALL: Fargo and Moorhead Are Both Defeated Yesterday."
Sunday Argus, July 11, 1897, p.8 

On This Date: Sporting News Mention and Fargo's Team Leaders

The Red River Valley League received mention on page six of the Sporting News on July 10th. In a dispatch written by W. Cloutier, likely a Fargoan, the sporting weekly mentioned Fargo's signing of pitchers Deacon Phillippe and Fred Steele, and ripped umpire Tupper's work in a June 26 game between Fargo and Moorhead, saying he had made "...one of the rankest decisions ever seen on the Fargo grounds." ("It Was Larceny"). The biased account also belittled the brash Moorhead catcher Tim Keefe as clearly inferior to Fargo's catcher Hartman (who was hitting .130 at the time).

The Forum on July 10th printed batting and fielding statistics for the Divorcees (through about 23 games):

Batting Average (minimum 30 at-bats):
Zink .322
Peterson .303

Brown .242
Hopkins .224
Jahnke .205
Murphy .200
McDonald .186
Hartman .130

Fielding Average (minimum 30 chances):
Brown .972
Hopkins .929
Hartman .914
Zink .892
McDonald .843
Jahnke .826
Keas .818
Murphy .682 (15 putouts , 15 assists, and 14 errors!)

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican - Saturday Evening
July 10, 1897 Front Page

Sunday, July 8, 2012

On This Date: Blowout Win

July 8, 1897 - Fargo continued to crawl up the RRVL standings with a 10-1 win at Grand Forks. Among the stars of the game was the "Norwegian Cyclone" Oscar Peterson, who scattered seven hits over nine innings, surrendering only one run. Shortstop Bill Zink hit a three-run home run, and the normally light-hitting Catcher Hartman went 3-4 with a double, a home run, and three runs scored. Peaceful Valley Brown received credit for impressive fielding at first base despite sloppy ground conditions, and former Fargo player Arthur Lyons, the umpire for the contest, was praised as "...the most satisfactory umpire seen (in Grand Forks) this year."

The game got a late start due to a pre-game downpour - play did not get underway until 6:30 pm. In an era without stadium lights, beginning the game this late meant the possibility of running out of daylight. Despite the 11 runs scored, though, the game still ended at 8:05 pm, well before sunset.

Fargo Forum - July 9, 1897

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

On This Date: Fargo Celebrates Independence Day with Win Over Moorhead

July 4, 1897 - Fred Steele pitched for the Divorcees, needing only an RBI double by Peaceful Valley Brown for support in Fargo's 1-0 win over Moorhead. Steele hit four batters, walked three more, and the defense behind him committed four errors, but the Barmaids only managed two hits off the 21-year-old twirler. Andy Anderson pitched well for Moorhead, allowing just seven hits, walking none, and hitting none, but failed to get any run support as the Barmaids left 11 men on base. The game was wrapped up in a tidy 82 minutes.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

On This Date: Second Triple Play in Three Days

Errors hurt both Fargo and Moorhead in a 5-3 Barmaids win on July 1, which dropped Fargo to a league worst record of 7-15. Peterson was on the hill for the Divorcees, while the Barmaids featured twirler Bob Brush. The fatal blow for Fargo was a four-run fifth inning by Moorhead, fueled by a costly error by second baseman Josh Reilly on a play that would have retired the side.

In the sloppy contest, Fargo's shining moment surprisingly occurred on defense in the form of a 2-3-4 triple play, the second in three days for the Fargo nine. With the bases loaded, Fargo's catcher Hartman fielded Frank O'Reagan's weak hit that stuck in the mud just in front of home plate. Hartman quickly touched home, then threw to "Peaceful Valley" Brown at first to retire O'Reagan. Brown then relayed a throw to Josh Reilly at second base, who tagged Pike Mullaney to complete the trifecta.

Despite a combined 19 hits for the two teams, and atrocious fielding to the tune of nine errors (six by Moorhead), the game was over in one hour, thirty-six minutes, a figure unheard of in professional baseball today.

Other news from July 1st-
- Outfielder Charles Jahnke asked for his release from Fargo and it was granted. Jahnke would play for Moorhead later in the season. The Forum lamented the loss of the "gentlemanly" Jahnke, praising his great fielding prowess.
- Lee Roberts pitched the Mandan, ND team to a 5-4 victory over a team from Fort Yates, ND.
- Outfielder Bergstrom arrived in Fargo to make his debut for the Divorcees.

July 1, 1897 and July 2, 1897 Fargo Forum p.4