Clipping:Stalling for darkness

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Date Sunday, September 22, 1861


The following communication has been address to us

“The Editors of the Sunday Mercury:

“Has an umpire the right to call a game drawn, contrary to the rules of the Base Ball Association?

“For instance, seven innings of a game are played; one club is two runs ahead when the eighth inning is commenced, and the other club scores three runs, putting them one ahead, with two men out. It then became too dark to continue the game, and the umpire decided it a drawn game.

“Should not the umpire, in such a case, go back to the seventh inning, and declare the club having the most runs the winner?

“By answering you would much oblige ARAGAIN.”

The above queries doubtless refer to the match played at Brooklyn on the 14th inst., between the Niagara and Resolute Clubs, the score of which will be found in another column.

The facts in the case appear to be as follows: At the terminus of the seventh inning in that match, the shades of night were rapidly approaching; still, an attempt was made to play another inning. The Niagara nine had the first bat, Rogers leading off, and was caught out on a foul bound. Forker, the next striker, was caught on the fly; and his successor, Hicks, was put out on the second base, closing the inning for the Niagaras without a run being added to their previous score of 21. The Resolutes, who were two runs behind their adversaries, then took the bat, commencing with Creagh, who, with Rogers, his successor, scored a r un each. Allen, the next striker, was then caught out on the fly. It was now becoming so dark that was very difficult for any one to see the movements of the ball. Taylor and Canfield each managed to hit it, and secured runs. Cowperthwait, their successor, struck out. The pitcher and catcher of the Niagara side now declared that they could not see the ball; but the Resolutes were desirous to have the inning completed, and the umpire permitted it to proceed. Beard, the next batsman stood wating at the bat for some moments, the pitcher and catcher of the Niagara allowing a good many balls to pass them-whether intentionally or not, we cannot say; for we did not witness the game. Much excitement prevailed; and the spectators, each moment crowding nearer and nearer to the striker, began to be noisy and demonstrative. Beard finally struck at the ball, and hit fout; but it was aso very dark that it was impossible for the fielders to see it; and then, we are informed, the umpire decided the contest to be a “drawn game,” as the inning could not be concluded – the score, at the time, standing 21 for the Niagara, and 23 for the Resolutes.

The above are the facts in the case, as we have received them from an eye-witness.

Our correspondent asks, “Has an umpire the right to call a game ‘drawn,’ contrary to the rules of the National Association?” There can be but one reply to this question, and that in the negative. There is no such thing as a “drawn game” recognized in the rules, if five innings have been played. One side or the other must be the conqueror, unless the score is a tie, at the close of active operations–as was the case in several games, last season, between the Gotham and other clubs, which , perhaps, might very properly be classed as “drawn games,” both parties agreeing to suspend play at a time when neither side had any advantage over the other. There can be no other “drawn game.” Section 31 of the Rules gives the umpire authority to determine when play shall be suspended at a match (in order to cover this very point of approaching darkness), and it is expressly stipulated in that rule, that “if the game cannot be concluded, it shall be decided by the last even innings, provided five innings have been played, and the party having the most number of runs shall be declared the winner.” Nothing can be plainer, simpler, or fairer than the vision of the Thirty-first Rule. It was especially designed to set al rest all disputes growing out of circumstances similar to the case in question; and as the eighth inning was not concluded, the umpire had no discretionary power, but must abide by the law, and decide the game in favor of that club which had the greatest number of runs as the close of the seventh inning.

It may have been that the Niagaras, finding the game passing out of their hands by the unexpected success of the Resolutes in the ighth inning, endeavored to “Play off,” and so prolong the inning, that it could be completed, and must necessarily have to be decided by the result of the seven previous innings. This unhandsome conduct on the part of the Niagaras is very pointedly hinted at in the following communication from a member of the Resolute Club:

NEW YORK, Sept. 20, 1861.

“To the Editors of the Sunday Mercury:

As there is considerable dissatisfaction at the manner in which the match between these clubs was terminated last Saturday, a statement of a few facts of the case may not be amiss. At the end of the seventh inning the Niagaras were two ahead, and being first at the bat, began the eighth inning with an 0, when the Resolute went in and scored four runs, with two men out. The third hand had struck twice, when the Umpire, by the refusal (not in word but in deed) of the pitcher of the Niagara to deliver the ball within reach of the bat, was compelled to stop the game and declare it a draw; Although this decision is not in accordance with the law of the game, yet what else could he do; it would certainly be unjust to give the victory to the Niagaras, when they could but would not end the game; and I believe the Resolutes were not entitled to it until they had three men out.

Their pitcher, however, is not the only one in fault; for all the nine, with a few honorable exceptions, did a great deal to delay the game; sometimes throwing the ball clear beyond the ones to whom they were playing; at others, currying it to the pitcher when it should have been passed, or, at least rolled to him, who then, instead of delivering it for the bat as required by Section 5 of the Rules, several times passed it clear over the heads of both striker and catcher. The Niagaras assertion that it was too dark to play the eighth inning, is all bosh. At the end of the seventh, nothing was said on either side about stopping, and as the N’s were put out with an 0 on the eighth in a very short time, it is hardly in reason to suppose the Resolute could not have made three runs before it became too dark, had their opponents play as fair a game as in the beginning.

My object in taking so much of your valuable space is not only to do justice to a club that may be barred from claiming the victory by an arbitrary rule of the game, but to call the attention of both the Senior and Junior Associations to the necessity of so amending the rules, that hereafter any club that delays a game, shall be declared defeated. Yours, respectfully, FAIR PLAY

If the facts presented by “Fair Play” are true in every particular, they go to prove that the umpire did not do his whole duty. He should have compelled the pitcher and the players generally on the Niagara side to act squarely up to the Rules. If after properly cautioning and remonstrating with them, they persisted in squandering time “for a purpose,” the umpire would have been justified in assuming the responsibility of deciding the inning closed in consequence of the refusal of the out-hands to play, and deciding the game in favor of the Resolutes. Failing to do this, the eight inning not having been concluded, it was his duty, under the Rules, to decide the result of the game in accordance with the score of the last complete inning.

The suggestion advanced by “Fair Play” to amend the Rules so as to declare as defeated any club which purposely delays a game–is a good one. A little better judgment on the part of umpires as to the time required to play an inning, would, in the meantime, avoid all difficulty.

Source New York Sunday Mercury
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Submitted by Richard Hershberger
Origin Initial Hershberger Clippings


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