1882 marked the first year in professional baseball's brief history, there were two "major" leagues. The National League finally got some competition with the formation of the American Association. Nevertheless, the cities represented in 1882 would not all seem "major league" to people in 2006, but nevertheless people in Troy, Buffalo, Worcester, Providence, and Louisville all had "major league" teams. And on this day in 1882, the Buffalo squad of the NL dropped a see-saw 6-5 affair to Boston before a crowd of around 700 at the South End Grounds of Boston.
Both teams were led by player-managers. Buffalo was led by Jim O'Rourke, who doubled as the team's center fielder, although he would play all nine positions during his career. Boston's manager was first baseman John Morrill. Each team used two pitchers most of the time. Buffalo started Pud Galvin, who would end up in the Hall of Fame. Their other pitcher was Hugh Daily, better known as "One Arm," although his handicap was similar to Jim Abbott's in that he really just had one hand. Like Abbott, he would throw a no-hitter in the majors (in 1883 for Cleveland.) Boston started Jim Whitney at pitcher, who also batted third as he was also the team's best hitter, batting .323 and slugging .510.
Buffalo scored in the first when Dan Brouthers, a future Hall of Famer, doubled and scored when left fielder Joe Hornung dropped a fly ball off the bat of second baseman Hardy Richardson. The Boston Daily Globe described the error as "excusable."
Hornung reached base in the second on an error by O'Rourke and singles by catcher Ed Rowen and right fielder Pat Deasley (the two men traded roles often during the season) led to two Boston runs. Buffalo scored a run in the fourth to tie the game at 2-2, but Boston shortstop Sam Wise (note, not a hobbit) homered to put his team up 3-2.
More errors and a passed ball led to single runs for Buffalo in the sixth and seventh to put them ahead 4-3. Boston made nine errors in all in the game.
Boston tied the game in the bottom of the eighth on a single by Wise (he also tripled and missed a cycle with no double) and then a double by center fielder Pete Hotaling.
But Buffalo took the lead again in the top of the ninth. Galvin singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, and then to third on a passed ball and he finally scored on an error by Morrill at first base. Buffalo was up 5-4 with three outs to go.
Morrill fouled out to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Whitney reached when right fielder Curry Foley dropped his fly ball. Hornung followed with a single. Rowen popped out to Richardson. One out left for a Buffalo win and Deasley was at the plate. He hit a fly ball to Foley in right, who again dropped the ball. With two outs, Whitney and Hornung both scored. Buffalo almost threw out Deasley at second for the third before Hornung scored, but it was too late and Boston was the winner.
The box score revealed some of the big differences between the baseball of 1882 and that of today. The starting pitchers, Whitney and Galvin, were credited with 14 and 16 "called strikes." At the time, batters still had the right to ask pitchers to throw them a low or high pitch. So there were few pitches that a batter would let go past him that were in an area where he wanted it. Whitney was credited with 78 balls and Galvin with 79. But since you needed seven balls for a walk in 1882, there was only one base on balls in the game.
Boston and Buffalo would end up tied for third in the National League with identical 45-39 records, 10 games behind champion Chicago.
Brouthers had a stellar year for Buffalo leading the NL in batting average (.368), on base percentage (.403), slugging (.547), hits (129), and total bases (192). Galvin went 28-23, but in 1883 and 1884, he would win 46 games and would win 364 games in his career.
Shortstop Jack Burdock would take over the managerial reins from Morrill in 1883, but on July 21, 1883, the team changed its mind and put Morrill in charge again. Morrill skippered the team to a 33-11 finish to win the NL flag in 1883.
Sources: Boston Daily Globe, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com