There was a festive air at Philadelphia's Baker Bowl as the Phillies and the Beaneaters
got together before a crowd of 23,000 to kick off the 1896 National League season.
Boston manager Frank Selee sent his ace, Kid Nichols, to start against Philadelphia's
The leadoff hitter for Boston was Billy Hamilton, who had been acquired from
Philadelphia in the offseason for Billy Nash, who served as Philadelphia's player
manager in 1896, and he got off to a fast start, drawing a walk to start the game. One out
later, Bobby Lowe lined a ground rule double into the overflow crowd that spilled on to
the field sending Hamilton to third. Hugh Duffy then powered a double to score Hamilton
and Lowe and give Boston a 2-0 lead. With two outs, right fielder Jimmy Bannon hit a
grounder that shortstop Lave Cross couldn't handle and Duffy scored the third run of the
Boston kept the pressure on in the second. With one out, Hamilton reached on a bunt
single and one out later, Lowe was hit by the pitch. Hamilton and Lowe then worked a
double steal. Duffy then grounded to Cross, who again failed to make the play to let
Hamtilton score and make it 4-0 Boston. Lowe tried to score, but Dan Brouthers tracked
down the errant ball in right field and gunned out Lowe at third base as he tried to get
Philadelphia got on the board in the third. Bill Hallman singled and Nash followed with a
walk. A sacrifice by Taylor moved the runners up 90 feet. Joe Sullivan grounded out to
score Hallman and Ed Delahanty singled to score Nash and it was 4-2 Boston after three.
Boston got the runs back in the top of the fourth. Nichols reached on an error by Nash.
Hamilton followed with a single and one out later, Lowe singled to load the bases. Duffy
then doubled in two runs. It was 6-2 Boston after four.
The teams exchanged runs in the 8th. Catcher Charlie Ganzel reached on a single. Nichols
tried to sacrifice him over, but Taylor threw wild and Ganzel scored. In the bottom half of the inning, Delahanty singled and Sam Thompson singled him to third and Ganzel
allowed a passed ball to make it 7-3, which was the final score.
Despite the auspicious beginning, Boston would finish in fourth place in the 12-team
National League with a 74-57 record. Philadelphia would finish eighth with a 62-68
record. Hamilton would have a stellar year, drawing 110 walks and stealing 83 bases and
finishing with a league-leading .477 OBP. But Duffy, who had batted .440 and slugged
.694 in 1894, slumped to a .300 average with a meager .389 slugging percentage.
The game featured seven future Hall of Famers in Hamilton, Duffy, Boston third
baseman Jimmy Collins, Nichols, Delahanty, Thompson, and Brouthers. And
Philadelphia would bring in rookie Nap Lajoie in August to fill in for Brouthers at first