Another Baseball Riot

I’ve got you guys’ number.  It is riots that get the juices flowing.  So here is another one, from 1874 in Boston.  The remarkable part is that Boston won the game, and the locals still rioted:

[Athletic vs. Boston 7/13/1874] The policemen on the ground endeavored to restore order, but their efforts were unavailing, for the crowd continued to make all sorts of remarks–one of which (“the G–d d–m s–n of a b–h,”) revealed the “loud-mouth betters [sic] and low-browed ruffians”…  The behavior of the crowd on the Athletics’ last inning, was one of the most disgraceful ever witness, while at the conclusion of the game, more than a thousand persons rushed on the field, to Murnan [the umpire], shouting “Kill the s–n of a b–h.” Murnan was rescued by the police, aided by the Boston players, but not before he had been struck by some miscreant. Jim White and Al Spalding behaved nobly, threatening to brain anyone making a movement to attack Murnan, who was escorted off the field under the protection of the players and the police. Thus ended this vile blot on the fair escutcheon of Boston.  Source: Philadelphia All-Day City Item July 14, 1874

The profanity seems disappointingly unimaginative–even banal.  It is a lot more interesting in Deadwood.

By way of teaser, the next installment of in the Baseball Riots series will be the Charleston, S.C. Baseball Race Riot of 1869.  Don’t touch that dial!

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5 thoughts on “Another Baseball Riot

  1. Thus ended this vile blot on the fair escutcheon of Boston.

    And thus also ended the last acknowledgement by a Philadelphia newspaper that the city of Boston might contain something good.


    • The Philadelphia press approves very much whenever the Redsox beat the Yankees. It’s just that, historically speaking, this hasn’t happened all that often.

      But seriously, my experience living in Philly is that it collectively doesn’t have a strong opinion about Boston one way or the other. Boston is not especially nearby, and New York is in the way. The thing is, Philly has a huge inferiority complex about New York. Two hundred years ago, Philadelphia was the cultural center of the United States. That ended about the same time the Erie Canal opened for business, and Philadelphia hasn’t really gotten over it. For a really weird example, I was living there on 9/11. The local media had eager discussions about what in Philadelphia would be a good target for a terror attack, combined with a vague sense of anger at being snubbed.


  2. Just for context: The Boston fans had no particular reason to be frustrated: their team went into that game 28-7. They wound up 52-18 for the year, averaging more than ten runs scored against fewer than six given up. This would be the third year in a row that they’d win the National Association handily (though nothing compared to the next year, when they finished 71-8!)

    Their roster had 11 men on it, four of whom are now in the Hall of Fame, including Harry Wright, whom Richard has portrayed as the pioneer of scientific baseball defense, his brother George, who was baseball’s first superstar, and Al Spalding, best remembered today for his success in sporting goods.


    • In fairness, the races of 1873 and 1874 were close.

      The Bostons trailed most of 1873, until the Philadelphias underwent a late-season fade, and even then the Philadelphias has a pretty solid case that the Bostons had been playing an ineligible player, and so the Philadelphias should get the pennant. This argument was countered with delaying tactics and bogus bureaucratic roadblocks, until it was declared too late to change anything, so shut up!

      In 1874, the race was a lot closer than the final standings show. On October 1 the Mutuals were only 1.5 games back. The season ran through October back then, and the Mutuals had a really terrible month. So while the Bostons led the league the entire season, it wasn’t a comfortable lead.

      1872 and 1875? Yeah, those were pretty much blowouts from start to finish.


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