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Random Game Callback, July 1, 1885
2006-07-01 03:59
by Bob Timmermann

The visiting New York Metropolitans of the American Association scored in six of the eight times they batted at the Jefferson Street Grounds in Philadelphia and defeated the Athletics, 12-11, in a game marked by a high quality temper tantrum by Philadelphia starter Phenomenal Smith, who might be the only major leaguer player to ever pull off the schoolyard gambit of picking up his ball and going home.

Jim Gifford managed New York and he chose Doug Crothers to start. Philadelphia manager and first baseman Harry Stovey started the newly signed Smith, who was just 20.

Smith had pitched one game for Pittsburgh in 1884 and another for Philadelphia and lost both of them. Brooklyn had taken a chance on him in 1885 and started him against first place St. Louis at home on June 16. Apparently, the Brooklyn players didn't like him as the New York Times reported that the Brooklyn players deliberately made errors behind him. The boxscore scored showed 14 of them. St. Louis won 18-5 and Brooklyn owner Charlie Byrne apologized to Smith for the way he was treated by his teammates. Nevertheless, Smith didn't return to Brooklyn and he signed with Philadelphia.

On July 1, Smith had struck out seven in the first four innings, but he had also given up seven hits and seven runs. To start the fifth, Smith walked the first two Brooklyn batters and complained about the calls from the umpire, Nat Hicks.

Smith's decision was not to continue arguing, but rather to just walk off the mound in protest. He also complained that catcher Jack O'Brien was not giving him sufficient support. So Smith quit. And walked away and he wouldn't be back in the 1885 season. O'Brien said he wasn't feeling well and he asked to leave the game as well and Jocko Milligan came in to catch. Gifford and the rest of the New York team complained about the substitutions, which weren't unlimited at the time, but Hicks allowed them. 17-year old Ed Knouff came in to pitch. Apparently, Smith left the ball.

When it was over, New York held on for a 12-11 win. Crothers pitched a complete game, giving up 13 hits and 11 runs and five strikeouts. Philadelphia right fielder John Coleman had a home run and three doubles.

Philadelphia finished fourth in the AA with a 55-57 record, 24 games behind first place St. Louis. New York finished in seventh at 44-64, 33 games out.

Stovey was the AA leader in home runs with 13. New York's Dave Orr led the league in triples with 21. Bobby Matthews of Philadelphia won 30 games.

Smith's career was far from over despite his tantrums. He pitched in three games for Detroit in the NL in 1886 and finally stuck with a team, Baltimore of the AA, in 1887 and pitched in 58 games. He eventually went on to pitch for Philadelphia in the AA again as well as the NL Phillies and a brief stop in Pittsburgh. Smith passed away in Manchester, New Hampshire on April 3, 1952 at the age of 87. The phenom finally was able to take his ball and go home for good.

Sources: Retrosheet,, New York Times

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