The National League was not going to start its season until April 29, but the rival
American Association was finishing up its first week of games this Saturday in 1886 (and
would even play games on Sunday!) with three games. The marquee battle was between
the Brooklyn squad and the Metropolitan squad as the New York entry was often called
that season. The Metropolitans played their home games at the
St. George Cricket Grounds on Staten Island.
Staten Island, like Brooklyn, would not become part of New York City
Although the Metropolitans had won the 1884 AA flag, they had hit hard
times in 1885, finishing 44-64. Meanwhile Brooklyn was working its way
up improving from .385 to .473 in its first two years in the AA.
On this day in 1886, the teams would meet at Brooklyn's home ground,
Washington Park. and about 7,000 fans would watch ("almost one-half of
them ladies" according to the New York Times.) And the home team
would pull out a 4-3 win.
Metropolitans manager Jim Gifford started Ed Cushman at pitcher while
Brooklyn manager Charlie Byrne countered with Henry Porter. The
Metropolitans used just four pitchers all season while Brooklyn used only
five, with one pitcher appearing in only one game.
Brooklyn scored first thanks to some Metropolitan mistakes. Right fielder
Steve Brady dropped a fly ball off the bat of Brooklyn's Bill McClellan. A
passed ball by Jim Donahue moved McClellan over a base and he scored
on a base hit by Ed Swartwood.
The Metropolitans did all their scoring in the second. Left fielder Steve
Behl drew a walk (reduced to just five balls that season). Then singles by
Brady, Tom McLaughlin, and Cushman, capped off by a double by Frank
Hankinson scored three runs.
In the third, Brooklyn got a run back. George Pinkney had a one-out
double and came around on singles by McClellan and Swartwood.
McClellan tried to steal third and appeared to be out, but the lone
umpire, Bob "Death to Flying Things" Ferguson, called him safe. Ernie
Burch sacrificed McClellan home to tie the game at 3-3.
There was no more scoring until the seventh. Catcher Jimmy Peoples
singled with one out and then advanced two bases on a passed ball by
Donohue. Porter then hit a slow grounder that allowed Peoples to score
with what proved to be the winning run.
Brooklyn and the Metropolitans would play a close season series. In 20
games, Brooklyn won 10, the Metropolitans won 9 and there was one tie.
Overall, Brooklyn fared better, finishing in third at 76-61, although that
was still 16 games behind pennant winner St. Louis. The Metropolitans
finished 53-82 and would get rid of Gifford as manager and replace him
with the umpire for this game, Ferguson. Neither team featured any
players who would make much of a mark in baseball history, although
Metropolitan first baseman Dave Orr would finish with a career .342
batting average in eight seasons.
The Metropolitans would last one more season in the American
Association before eventually ceding control of New York to the NL
Giants. Brooklyn would regress in 1887, but bounce back in 1888 to
finish second and then win its first pennant in 1889. The next year,
Brooklyn switched leagues to the NL and won the pennant there too. And
the longstanding Dodgers-Giants rivalry would be born.
Sources: New York Times, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference