Missing from most of Sunday's papers was a late National League score—110 years late.
The Troy Green Stockings defeated the Worcester Brown Stockings 2-0 at Knickerbacker Park in Troy, N.Y., last Saturday in the resumption of a series that ended with the conclusion of the 1882 season. That's when the two franchises, the weak sisters in the league, were asked to make way for two teams that would eventually become the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies. Because Troy and Worcester left without a fuss, they were granted honorary memberships in the National League, memberships that have never been rescinded.
With that in mind, volunteers from the two cities, as well as from the Society for American Baseball Research, organized this spring classic, played by 1882 rules in the uniforms of the time with period equipment, what little there was of it. Only the catchers wore gloves, and they didn't have pads or masks. It also took seven balls to draw a walk, but the pitcher had to throw the ball to the level where the batter wanted it.
A crowd estimated at 3,000—considerably more than the handful of spectators who saw visiting Troy beat Worcester 10-7 in the teams' last meeting, on Sept. 29, 1882—watched the players arrive in horse-drawn carriages. As Troy city manager Steve Dworsky told the crowd, "If this many people had shown up 110 years ago, we could have been playing the New York Mets this afternoon."
The players, who came from over-30 leagues in both cities, put on an exciting game. The winning run came in the second inning of the five-inning game, thanks to a single by Ken Harrison of Troy on a 5-1 pitch. About the only anachronistic note came when Worcester pitcher John St. Pierre and first baseman Fran Henrickson exchanged a very un-1882-like high five after a nifty pickoff play.
After the game, players for both teams, which will meet again on June 20 in Worcester, signed autographs. "It felt like baseball," said Green Stocking first baseman Tom McGuire, a present-day insurance agent, "and it felt like 1882." Indeed, as McGuire let a little boy try to swing his 40-ounce hickory bat, McGuire could have been Hall of Famer Roger Connor, Troy's last first baseman.
There's No Way to San Jose
Whither the San Francisco Giants? Last week, voters in San Jose rejected a proposal to build a $265 million to $300 million ballpark for the Giants on the northern periphery of their city (SI, June 1). It was the fourth time in six years—twice in San Francisco, once in neighboring Santa Clara County and now in San Jose, which is 50 miles south of San Francisco—that a Bay Area electorate has said no to a new ball yard, and the naysayers' margin of victory this time (55% to 45%) was the most convincing of all. "I'm very disappointed," said the Giants' owner Bob Lurie. "I really had hopes that we would win. I guess it's just the economic climate." Two days after the vote, former Giants catcher Mike Sadek, who's now an assistant director of community services for the team, tried to cheer up Lurie. "Don't worry," Sadek said. "I went oh for 4 all the time."
So what now? Lurie despises cold and blustery Candlestick Park and says his team won't stay there beyond the 1994 expiration of his lease. In fact, an escape clause permits him to pull up stakes as early as next year. Lurie, a San Francisco native who saved the Giants from moving to Toronto when he bought the team in 1976, probably will not take them out of town. He could, however, sell the Giants to auslanders. But the Bay Area, with six million people, is the fifth-largest television market in the country, and the National League would presumably be reluctant to leave the territory to the Oakland Athletics of the American League.
Saving the Giants would be a boon to San Francisco mayor Frank Jordan's embattled administration, and a local committee has already announced its readiness to proceed with a new ballpark downtown that would be privately financed. Groups in Sacramento and in Santa Clara County are expected to renew their efforts to lure the Giants, and they, too, say their bids will be privately financed.