It’s Off to League Park in Cleveland for Game 3
Today in our series, the scene shifts to Cleveland for Game 3 of our series between the 1876 Louisville Grays, the first major league baseball team from Louisville, and the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, the consensus choice for the worst team in major league history. Louisville manager Jack Chapman will be sending Game 1 starter Jim Clinton to the hill, and Cleveland manager Lave Cross is countering with Crazy Schmitt, because c’mon, how could you not?
Once again, the Spiders got off to a fast start with one in the bottom of the first. Tommy Dowd led off with a single to right. On the first pitch to Dick Harley, the next hitter, Dowd stole second. The Grays should have gotten out of it, as Clinton got Harley on a ground ball to short and Joe Quinn on a line drive to third baseman Bill Hague, but right fielder Art Allison managed to misplay a routine fly ball off the bat of Suter Sullivan, with the run scoring on Allison’s error.
Ironically, Suter then gave the run back in the top of the second. Johnny Ryan hit a sharp grounder to Sullivan at third. Sullivan muffed the ball, and when he finally got control, chucked it over the head of first baseman Sport McAllister for a two-base error. Scott Hastings followed with a single up the middle, tying up the game at 1.
But the Spiders were back at it in the bottom of the second, lighting up Clinton for three. After Charlie Hemphill led off with a sharp single, Joe Sugden singled to left – and Johnny Ryan misplayed the ball, leaving Hemphill and Sugden both in scoring position. Harry Lochhead singled to right, plating both runs. Clinton then seemed to lose his composure for several minutes, sending Lochhead to second with a wild pitch with Crazy Schmitt at the plate, and to third with another wild one with Tommy Dowd up. At that point, it was easy – Dowd just lofted a sacrifice fly to center, bringing Lochhead home with the Spiders’ fourth run of the game.
Even more sloppy fielding led to the Grays’ second run in the top of the fourth. Scott Hastings and Bill Holbert started things off with nearly identical base hits to right, with Hastings coming around to third. One out later, with pitcher Jim Clinton at the plate, Spiders’ catcher Joe Sugden mishandled a fastball from Crazy Schmitt and Hastings scored.
First baseman Joe Gerhardt led off the Grays’ fifth inning with a sharp single to right. Bill Hague reached on a one-base throwing error by Crazy Schmitt. Schmitt then walked Chick Fulmer to load the bases and Johnny Ryan brought the Grays within one with a sacrifice fly. After Scott Hastings grounded out, the Grays benefited from another Cleveland lapse, as Bill Holbert reached on second baseman Joe Quinn’s fielding error, with Hague scoring the tying run.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the seventh, with the Spiders hitting. Crazy Schmitt led off by reaching base on a one-base error by Chick Fulmer, Louisville shortstop – the sixth error of the game. Clinton collected two quick outs, but with Joe Quinn at the plate, he first wild pitched Schmitt to second, and Quinn then doubled to right-center, scoring the lead run for the Spiders.
The Spiders mounted a serious threat to add more runs in the bottom of the eighth, but the Grays’ bats had done all they could do: six hitters up in the eighth and ninth, six straight hitters down.
So with three games of our series done, the Louisville Grays are actually losing to the worst team ever – Cleveland two, Louisville one. Next time, we’ll see if the Grays can tie the series and turn it into a best-of-three.