Clipping:A failed game due to a large crowd; clearing the field

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Date Monday, May 6, 1889

[Athletic vs. Brooklyn May 5, 1889] The fine weather of yesterday was almost perfect for ball playing, and the fact that the Brooklyn and Athletic Clubs were to play at Ridgewood brought out 18,000 base ball enthusiasts to see the game. Hours before the game they began to come. The early comers had no more than selected their choice seats before a crowd of fully five thousand persons was outside the gates clamoring for admission. From 2:30 o'clock to 3:30 o'clock there was a solid mass of people reaching from the gates of the ball grounds along the Manhattan Beach Railroad to Myrtle avenue, a distance of probably half a mile. Near the gates this treat line was broken up into a number of small lines. For the greater portion of the time it was a go-as-you-please, and every man for himself. The one or two constables who tried to make order out of the confusion might just as well have tried to stop the tides.

A thousand or more persons were jammed into the little space leading to the admission gates, and the outside thousands pushing on them prevented their being able to move at times. When the game began, the seats had all been taken, and with one exception there was no place to stand. The picket fences on each side of the ground had a mass of spectators both outside and in, and the only place left unfilled was the space directly back of the field. This space, however, was filling up fast, and as hundreds packed themselves on that part of the field every minute, it became too small to hold them. The crowd then began to push forward. The great high fences surrounding the grounds bore a solid row of men, and the only thing that those on the field could do was to push forward.

Every few minutes there would be a break in the lines and a general move forward. This continued until the Athletics had finished their fifth inning and the Brooklyns were at the bat for their half of the fifth. The crowd by this time had encroached upon the territory of the outfielders. Left-fielder Stovey of the Athletics called Umpire Holland's attention to the fact, and asked to have the ground cleared. Holland requested the manager of the Brooklyn Club to see that the spectators were moved back. President Byrne, Umpire Holland, and several of the Brooklyn and Athletic players tried to assist the four lone constables in clearing the field. They failed in doing so. Those on the front of the crowd could not get back, and those on the back would not.

Then began one of the finest scenes ever presented on a ball field. The attempt to get the right field side of the crowd back resulted in a break in the centre, and a thousand men moved forward a few steps and then wheeled to the right in a solid body and completely surrounded the men and players who were trying to put the crowd back. For a moment the left field crowd remained on a grassy incline. Then one man in the front jumped up and started across for the right field. This was a signal for another break, and two thousand men reinforced the the right field crowd. The attempt to clear the ground was then given up, and with one grand rush five thousand spectators rushed down upon the diamond, and in a minute the whole ball field was a mass of human beings.

Ball playing was now out of the question, and Umpire Holland called the game back to the even fifth inning, and the players all went home. It is quite likely that this contest will be heard from again, and it may prove no end of trouble for both sides. President Byrne says that Stovey and Larkin incited the crowd to move forward on the field. This may be so, but the players deny it. Mr. Byrne also said that the actions of these two men caused the breaking up of the game, and that he would refuse to pay the managers the usual 20 per cent. due them as the visiting club. On the other hand, the Athletic managers insist that as the Brooklyn managers had failed to provide a sufficient number of police with which to keep the field clear, they should be awarded the game. They say that the umpire should have demanded that the field be cleared in a specified time, as called for in the rules, and if this was not done they should have been awarded the game by 9 to 0...

When asked whether it was true that Stovey and Larkin had made any move toward inciting the crowd to break in on the field, they said that it was nonsense and that the circumstances of the case showed that they had nothing to gain by such a move. They had just a lead in the game but the inning had not been finished by the Brooklyn Club, so that any attempt to to break up the game would have done them no good as far as winning was concerned.

It is certain that they w ill make a fight to have the game awarded them and the money also. If they don't get the money it is not quite plain who will get it unless it goes to the Brooklyn Club it certainly would not be fair for the home club to have it, either, because it was by their failure to have sufficient police to keep back the crowds that the game was not finished.

A walk among the crowd while the diamond was still overrun showed quite plainly the cause of the game being broken up. The great crowd seemed to have made up its mind to get even with Stovey for his kicking in days gone by, and determined that he and his team should not win this game. New York Sun May 6, 1889

The Brooklyn team now went to the bat and Burns opened with a hit to Fennelly, who threw him out. At this juncture a movement of the crowd in on the right center field, back of where Welch was standing, was noticed, and while Foutz was at the bat the umpire called time and notified the Brooklyn officials that the field must be cleared. The ground officers went down to induce the crowd to stand bac, while Stovey and Welch–as dozens of men were ready to testify–told the crowd they could move in if they liked, and they did so, and soon the Athletic players, who had gathered back of second base in a bunch, were surrounded, and it became impossible to place the crowd back in their former position. Umpire Holland , seeing that the ground officials and Mr. Byrne had done their best to clear the field, and also that there was no possibility of having the contest resumed, called the game back to the last even five innings played, which left the game a draw, 1 to 1. ... Under the circumstances no claim of forfeit will hold good, especially in view of the fact that Stovey and Welch encouraged the crowd to break in. They were in a hurry to close the game, so as to catch the train, and they knew that if the crowd broke in it would likely end in a forfeit. That it was their game because of the lead they had secured was a nonsensical claim. Brooklyn Eagle May 6, 1889 [The game was in fact forfeited to the Athletics.]

Source New York Sun
Submitted by Richard Hershberger
Origin Initial Hershberger Clippings


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