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"A Game Of Brawl"

A Game of Brawl
Bill Felber contends in A Game of Brawl that the 1897 series the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Beaneaters played to determine that year's pennant winner was especially significant because the games were relatively civil. In previous contests between the two teams, players had fought with each other, fans had fought with players, and everybody had understood that the Orioles, led by third baseman John McGraw, would cheat whenever they thought they could get away with it.

Whether the relatively peaceful games at the end of the 1897 season did set the tone for the next century and more of baseball is perhaps disputable, though it's fair to say fans with mayhem in their hearts no longer chase members of the visiting team all the way to the railroad station.

Today no team travels by train.

Among the other occurrences more common in baseball's earlier days than now were suicide and death by tuberculosis. Of course now we have steroids and "Driven," the cologne endorsed by Derek Jeter.

But seriously, folks, A Game of Brawl, subtitled "The Orioles, the Beaneaters & The Battle for the 1897 Pennant," is a fine source of stories about the days when owners compromised games by authorizing fans to sit in the outfield so the gate would be bigger, when Boston fans celebrated victories by tossing into the air beans which they had carried to the games in their pockets for that purpose, and when an umpire could be arrested twice in one season without losing his job.

This program aired on October 11, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield has been the host of Only A Game since the program began in 1993.

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