Louisville Travels To Savannah:

A Baseball Game From 1886


Editor's Note: Many readers may be unaware of the large part teams from Louisville played in the early years of organized professional baseball. For example, a Louisville team was part of the National League when it was established in 1876. As can be imagined, travel to away games in those days took much longer, thus away games were somewhat special. In this old news account written by the manager of the Louisville team, we can get a glimpse of the sport of baseball as it was 115 years ago.
Manager Hart - 1886
Louisville Courier-Journal

March 11, 1886 - We got here Sunday evening, as anticipated, after a long and tedious ride from Louisville. The weather, upon our arrival and during Monday, was charming.

Monday, the boys were all anxious to get to work, some of them breakfasting at 6 o'clock, and at once starting for the grounds; a walk of one and one-half miles, which by the way, is walked by each member of the team four times a day.

On Monday, nearly eight hours of practice were indulged in; two and one-half hours were put in on Tuesday morning, but a rainstorm came up in the afternoon, which prevented more practice that day. The rain was very welcome, as the practice already had caused the men to be sore in every joint, and the half-day's rest was in the nature of a Godsend.

Yesterday opened very cool and cloudy, a really unpleasant day for ballplaying. Consequently, not much was done except to take in a three-mile walk and a short round of practice, probably one and one-half hours. In the afternoon, at 3:30 o'clock, Arthur Irwin, shortstop and captain of the Philadelphia League club, in the capacity of umpire, called "Batter up!" and Reccius pitched the first ball for the Louisville team for 1886. The game was well-played during the first four innings, when consideration is made for the soreness of the players.

The Savannah team is managed by Charlie Morton, well-known in Louisville as manager of the famous Akrons, the Toledos and Detroits. He has a good team, here, composed as follows: catchers: Stockwell, who has played with the Chicagos, Louisvilles, Milwaukees, and Ithicas; McLaughlin, of Sacramento, California; and Gillen, of the Macons. Pitchers: O'Day, of the Toledos, Pittsburgh, and Washington; Nolen, well-known as the "Only Nolen;" a lefthander by the name of J. Moriarity, and an ambidextrous youngster by the name of Neal; first base: Field, of Columbus and Pittsburgh. Second base: Strief, an old player. Third base: Murray, of last year's Macons. Shortstop: Our last season's Joe Miller. Left field: Moriarity, of Indianapolis and Detroit. Center field: J. Moriarity, when not pitching. Right field: Hub Collins, a Louisville boy.
The Louisville nine include: Right Field: Wolf. Center Field: Browning. First Base and Catcher: Cross and Cook. Second Base: Mack. Left Field and Pitcher: Reccius. Shortstop: White. Third Base: Strauss. Pitcher and Catcher: Ely.

The Louisville boys showed that, when in condition, they will play in unison, like clockwork, though as yet, Werrick, White, Mack, and Ely are so sore that they cannot do themselves justice. Werrick hits a ball hard and often. White covers an immense territory, while Ely (with Cook as his catcher) promises to be a successful pitcher. Strauss is a good all-around man and is especially strong as a fielder and baserunner.

I will place the men in the game here so that I can play two batteries in each game, and as I specially instruct the pitchers to be discreet with their arms and to use very little speed, you need not be surprised if we are beaten, occasionally. I am anxious to get the team in good working order, then I can judge as to merit.

We played yesterday to a good audience, considering the chilliness of the atmosphere, there being many ladies in attendance. The audience is very fair, and while they cheer and "pull" for their own club, they appreciate good plays by the visiting club and do not "boo" and "hiss" at the umpire, as certain Southern audiences do. We leave here Sunday for Charleston, where we play Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

P. S. - I forgot to say that we won yesterday's game by a score of 10 to 5, though the Savannahs had us 5 to 0 at the fifth inning. The hits were four from Reccius' pitching, and two (in four innings) from Ramsey, while we had 12 off O'Day. We made eight errors, while the home team made two.

The following is a full account of the last game played in Savannah by the Louisvilles, according to The Savannah News:

In spite of the cold, the crowd at the baseball park was fully as large as that which witnessed Wednesday's game. The game started with Savannah at the bat. The first inning was a blank. Moriarity was in the box for the home team and Ely for the visitors, with McLaughlin and Cross behind the bat.

Both pitchers did effective work, but were batted freely. In the fifth inning, Neal went into the box for the Savannahs and Reccius for the Louisvilles. Neal throws a drop-ball that is a puzzler. During the four innings that he pitched, five men went out on strikes. Browning, the heavy hitter of the Louisvilles, was retired twice.

McLaughlin, in spite of the fact that he had never caught Neal, and was equally as much of a stranger to Moriarity, played a good game. He is a heavy batter, and in the seventh inning, struck a three-bagger off Reccius, making the only three-base hit of the game. Collins, Field, and Miller were each credited with a two-base hit for Savannah, and Strauss one for the Louisvilles.
The visitors are strong in the field and at the bat. Their team is made up of heavier men, who have been in practice, while the Savannahs are a new team. In view of this fact, the showing they made ought to be more than satisfactory to the management.