Dodgers First 'World Series" in 1889

With the World Series again being played without Dodger representation, let's take a look at the first 'World Series' the franchise was involved in, well back in the paleolithic era of baseball. Some of us feel that was about how long ago Kirk Gibson did his thing against the Athletics, but it was, in reality, much longer than that.

The two of the three series were played before the turn of the 19th century and the third was contested in 1900. Many participating in the games will not be recognizable to any but Dodger aficionados, but at the time they excited the Brooklyn fans.

Brooklyn's first professional team played in the Interstate Association and formed by George Taylor, Charles Byrne, Joseph Doyle and Ferdinand Abell. They built their own park on grounds that held the Vechte-Cortelyou House that was used as George Washington's headquarters during the Revolutionary War -- thus the park was called Washington Park.

Brooklyn had been a hotbed of amateur baseball for many years so the new owners advertised in the local newspapers for those "Players whose habits and ways unfit them for thorough teamwork need not trouble themselves to apply for positions on the new Brooklyn club's team."

Of the 40 who answered the call, they picked 16 for the team. Byrne was named club president and a young man applied for, and got, a front office job manning the turnstiles and selling scorecards who would someday become the president and owner of the club -- Charles Ebbets.

They won the league pennant on the final days of the season and buoyed by their success, jumped right into the American Association, then a major league, in 1884.

Brooklyn won the 1889 pennant, beating out the St. Louis Browns, and prepared to meet the New York Giants who had won the National League pennant and just moved into their newly constructed Polo Grounds.

With a burst of pride, the Brooklyn Eagle trumpeted before the first game, "We have the biggest bridge, biggest burying ground and the biggest Base Ball club in this blessed land of big things."

Ii was the first blush of a bitter rivalry that continues to this day the Dodgers, then called 'Bridegrooms', named after four members of the team married in after the 1888 season.

In front of a bustling crowd of 8,445 in the Polo Grounds, Brooklyn jumped into a five-run lead in the first inning, fell behind then rallied to take a 12-10 margin as darkness started to fall on the field. The team went into a stall and finally the umpire (singular) called the game because of darkness.

New York won the second game 6-2 before a crowd of 4,500 who overflowed Washington Park crowding behind ropes along the foul lines and in the outfield.

Back at the Polo Grounds the next day, Brooklyn took an 8-7 lead late in the game, then went into their slowdown mode again. New York loaded the bases inn the last of the ninth but the umpire again call the game and the Grooms took a 2-1 lead.

Game 4 back in Washington Park saw Brooklyn take a 7-2 lead but the Giants tied things in the sixth. In the last of the inning, Oyster Burns hit a high fly with two men on base and it was so dark the Giant outfielder could not see it. The ball dropped untouched, three runs scored and Brooklyn won 10-7 when the game was again called.

But that was the high point of the series. New York won the next three games and then on a cold and rainy afternoon an error by Brooklyn catcher Doc Bushong (he was a dentist), allowed a pair of runs in the seventh and New York won the game 3-2 and the series.

Although the team hit only .231, second baseman Hub Collins led Brooklyn with a .315 average. Bob Caruthers, who was 40-11 during the season, finished 0-2 and Adonis Terry, so names because his good looks drew capacity crowds for Ladies Day game, was 2-3 in the series after piling up a 22-15 record during the year.

Tomorrow: Brooklyn vs Louisville in the 1890 World Series.

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