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  • Writer's pictureKirk Jenkins

It’s Game 7: the 1899 Cleveland Spiders Vs. the 1876 Louisville Grays

Today we’ve arrived at Game 7 of our simulated series between the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, the consensus choice for the worst major league team in history, and the 1876 Louisville Grays, the first of Louisville’s major league teams. For this deciding game, the Spiders are sending Game 5 starter Harry Colliflower back to the mound, and the Grays are countering, for the third straight game, with Jim Clinton.

The Spiders mounted a threat straight out of the box in the top of the first. Tommy Dowd reached on an error by Jim Clinton. After line drive outs by Dick Harley and Joe Quinn, Suter Sullivan reached on a play that was almost identical to Clinton’s error with Dowd up – second error for Dowd, men on first and second. Sport McAllister then loaded the bases, dropping a base hit into short left, but Clinton got Charlie Hemphill on a pop up to end the inning.

Joe Sugden and Harry Lochhead opened the second for Cleveland with back-to-back singles, as Sugden came all the way around to third. Sugden scored on a passed ball by Louisville catcher Bill Holbert. Harry Colliflower then reached on a one-base error by Bill Hague, with Lochhead coming around to third. Tommy Dowd made it 2-0 Cleveland with a single to right and Dick Harley brought in a third run with a sacrifice fly.

The Grays got one run back in the bottom of the third. Art Allison led off the inning with a double to right-center. He advanced to third on Jim Clinton’s grounder to the right side and then scored on Ed Somerville’s grounder to first.

But Cleveland added a fourth run in the top of the fourth on more bad fielding by Louisville. Cleveland’s first two hitters brought two straight errors by pitcher Jim Clinton and right fielder Art Allison – men on second and third. Dick Harley then singled to left, scoring Harry Colliflower from third.

Louisville managed a second run in the bottom of the fourth on a bit of clutch hitting. Chick Fulmer got a one-out single to right. Johnny Ryan followed with a single to right-center, with Fulmer stopping at second. Scott Hastings grounded to second, with Fulmer and Ryan advancing to third and second, respectively. Bill Holbert then brought in the run with a sharp base hit up the middle over the heads of Cleveland’s second baseman and shortstop.

So things entered the top of the fifth in this deciding game with Cleveland leading 4-2. Charlie Hemphill led off for Cleveland by reaching on Louisville’s sixth error of the game, this one charged to third baseman Bill Hague. After Clinton got Joe Sugden and Harry Lochhead on back-to-back pop ups, opposing pitcher Harry Colliflower scored Hemphill with a double to left-center. Tommy Dowd then followed with a base hit to left, scoring Colliflower with Cleveland’s sixth run of the game.

The Grays staged a two-out rally in the bottom half of the inning to pull closer. Joe Gerhardt and Bill Hague had back-to-back singles before Chick Fulmer launched a booming triple which slammed off the left field wall, rebounding much of the way back to the infield. Johnny Ryan walked to put men on first and third with two outs, but the Grays then made it 6-5 when Ryan stole second and Fulmer scored when Sugden’s throw, trying to get Ryan, went wide.

Louisville put up a big inning when they needed one in the bottom of the sixth, once again stringing together hits. Bill Holbert opened with a double to left. Art Allison singled him to third before pitcher Jim Clinton doubled to right, with Holbert scoring the tying run and Allison stopping at third. Ed Somerville put up the fourth straight hit, singling to left to plate Allison and Clinton, putting Louisville up 8-6. With Joe Gerhardt up, Somerville stole second, and when Gerhardt added Louisville’s fifth straight hit, Somerville scored, making it 9-6. Bill Hague forced Gerhardt at second, but Colliflower then walked Chick Fulmer, putting men at first and second. Johnny Ryan doubled to left-center, ultimately clearing the bases when Dick Harley’s throw back into the infield went wide, making it Louisville 12-6.

Louisville piled on more in the bottom of the seventh. Art Allison led things off with a sharp base hit to right. Jim Clinton hit an easy fly ball to left which Dick Harley managed to misplay into a two-base error. Ed Somerville then scored Louisville thirteenth and fourteenth runs with a base hit to right. After Joe Gerhardt lofted a fly ball to center, Bill Hague brought in Somerville with a base hit up the middle.

With Louisville up 15-6 heading into the top of the eighth, Cleveland put men on first and second with lead-off singles by Dick Harley and Joe Quinn. Jim Clinton’s control then took leave of him for several moments as he launched back-to-back wild pitches, ultimately scoring Harley and putting Quinn on third. Suter Sullivan then scored the second run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to right.

Johnny Ryan led off the bottom of the eighth with a booming triple into the right field corner. Scott Hastings grounded out to second, with Ryan coming in to score the Grays’ sixteenth run of the game. Bill Holbert doubled to right, but Cleveland managed to shut things down with a ground ball and a fly ball to right.

With the Grays up 16-8, Harry Lochhead opened up the Spiders’ ninth with a base hit to left-center. Cleveland manager Joe Quinn then sent Otto Krueger to the plate to hit for pitcher Harry Colliflower, and Krueger delivered a base hit. Tommy Dowd then loaded the bases with a short single to left. Louisville manager Jack Chapman then pulled Jim Clinton, bringing in Frank Pearce to try to shut down the Spiders. Dick Harley scored the Spiders’ ninth run with a sacrifice fly to center, but Pearce then got Joe Quinn and Suter Sullivan on consecutive flies to right, ending the game and the series.

So it was unexpectedly close, but the 1876 Louisville Grays have defeated the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, four games to three.

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