Baseball has been played in Boston since 1871 as a professional sport. On this day in 1887, perhaps the first old-timers game was played in Beantown. With over 2,000 fans present, it’s clear the New Englanders have been baseball mad since the beginning of the sport.
While the game was billed as a benefit for Jack Manning the outfielder of the Old Red Caps, and NL Champions of 1877, it featured many of the older Boston Nationals playing against a picked local team, called the Pioneers. The Pioneers were local ballplayers most of which played semi-pro ball.
The mystery is why the game was a benefit for Manning. There is little information on why he needed the money. We do know that he was the third player to hit three home runs in one game. As a pitcher, he led the National League in saves in 1876 with 5. He was born in nearby Braintree Ma, and lived in New England until his death in 1929.
Of the Boston of ’76 team, two members were not part of the original team; Lon Knight was a member of the rival Philadelphia Athletics. Tim Bond, the pitcher, joined the team in 1877 as their number one pitcher. He went 40-17 and pitched 521 innings with 6 shutouts.
This team featured two people that can be found in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown: George Wright as a player, manager and 19th century stalwart of the game; and Tim Murnane, who was selected as the J.G. Taylor Spink Award in 1978.
Murnane was a founder of the Baseball Writers Association of America in 1908, writing for the Boston Globe from 1888 to 1917. His influence in the game was extensive, he was president of four minor leagues in New England, an umpire, player, scout, team manager, and international baseball ambassador. The Hall of Fame described Murnane was, ” . . . one of most remarkable and colorful characters in the game’s history.”
In hitting a triple, the old sportswriter, Tim Murnane is the hitter of the day.
The old Boston professionals of Short stop George Wright, Lon Brown, Harry Schaefer, and Andy Leonard, pulled off a triple play.
The Original Red Sox, sometimes known as the Red Stockings or Red Caps were baseball’s most dominate team from 1871 to 1875 in the National Association. During the winter of 1875, Four of the best players from Boston were recruited away to establish the National League’s Cubs, two of the four are Hall of Famers: AG Spalding and Deacon White, while Ross Barnes and Cal McVey are not. With their team depleted of its stars, the Bostonians of ’76 were not that good and finished fourth, 15 GB. They did rebound and played .700 baseball to win the second National League Pennant in 1877, 7 games ahead of second place finisher Louisville.
Only two teams remain from the founding of the National League in 1876, the Cubs, who have played in one city longer than any other team; and the Atlanta Braves, who are the oldest continuous sports franchise on the planet.