August 17, 2016
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Lip Pike
Most of the following information came from the Wikipedia entry on the Brooklyn Atlantics: The Atlantics had been among the first clubs to declare themselves professional when allowed to do so in 1869. The Cincinnati Red Stockings of 1869 was the first professional baseball team. They won every game in 1869, including a 32 – 10 drubbing of the Brooklyn Atlantics. Their final record their first season was 57 – 0. They started the 1870 season in the South and arrived in New York on June 12th, still undefeated. They were 23 – 0 so far in 1870, with an 80-game winning streak, still intact.
They defeated the New York Mutuals, one of the top teams in the nation, 16 – 3 on June 13th. At the Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn the next day, Tuesday afternoon June 14th, 1870, the still-undefeated Cincinnati Red Stockings took on the Brooklyn Atlantics. Finally, the undefeated first professional team had met their match. The first professional team lost to their Brooklyn opponents, 8 – 7, in 11 innings. Here is the description from the SABR website:
By game time between 12,000 and 15,000 spectators were on the grounds, many thousands standing in a semi-circle that stretched deep into the outfield. The Atlantics appeared in their traditional uniform of long dark blue pants and white shirts with an “A” on the front, and the Red Stockings, in their white uniforms and long red hose, tipped their caps as they came onto the field to acknowledge the polite applause of the spectators.
Seven members of the Atlantics were holdovers from the 1869 team; the main addition was George Zettlein, a powerful pitcher the Red Stockings had never faced. The Red Stockings edged out to a 3–0 lead, but sloppy fielding by third baseman Fred Waterman, first baseman Charles Gould and second baseman Charlie Sweasy let the Atlantics take the lead, 4–3, after six innings. In the top of the seventh, George Wright quieted the big crowd with a single that drove in two runs, and the Red Stockings reclaimed the lead, 5–4. The Atlantics tied the score in the eighth, 5–5, and that is where it stood after nine full innings.
The rules of the era did not dictate extra innings unless one captain wished the game to continue. Harry Wright could well have taken the tie, and kept the unbeaten string alive, and that is what the umpire and the Atlantics captain Bob Ferguson assumed would happen. The umpire left the field, and Ferguson’s Atlantics headed to their clubhouse. But Harry engaged Ferguson in discussion about continuing. Ferguson seemed content to accept the tie, but Harry persisted. Finally, the umpire was recalled, the players returned, and the game resumed.
The Red Stockings were out in order in the top of the 10th; the Atlantics mounted a rally in the bottom of the inning. With two on and one out, George Wright moved to catch a short fly ball. But instead he let it bounce, and with no infield fly rule yet written, he easily started a double play. In the 11th, the Red Stockings appeared to have won the game with a two-run rally. But the Red Stockings’ ace pitcher, Asa Brainard, now seemed to tire. With one on and no outs, Joe Start, the Atlantic first baseman, lined a ball far over Cal McVey’s head in right field. The ball rolled into the crowd, where, by most accounts, an exuberant spectator jumped on McVey’s back. McVey shook him off and returned the ball to the infield. One run scored and the batter reached third. The Red Stockings finally got an out, but then Ferguson singled home the tying run, and Zettlein followed with another hit, putting runners on first and second. And then came the play that ended the streak. George Hall, the Atlantics’ center fielder, bounced a ball to George Wright, a sure double play, but George’s throw sailed by Sweasy, and Ferguson, running hard from second, scored the winning run.
“The yells of the crowd could be heard for blocks around and a majority of the people acted like escaped lunatics,” wrote the New York Sun correspondent. The Red Stockings quickly boarded their omnibus and left the grounds, upset at the loss, but gracious in defeat. No one made an issue of McVey’s tussle with the spectator; the boys understood that the Atlantics had beaten them squarely. If the streak had to end—and surely it did—this was the way it should have happened: hard fought, stirring rallies, lead changes and extra innings. Club President Aaron Champion summed it up in a telegram back to Cincinnati: “The finest game ever played. Our boys did nobly, but fortune was against us. Eleven innings played. Though beaten, not disgraced.”
Here’s the box score of that first Cincinnati defeat. Notice who batted 8th and played second base for the Atlantics, an odd position for a left-handed thrower: Lip Pike.
According to the information you could get from the box scores at the time, Pike scored no runs, but he had 1 hit, had 6 assists and 3 putouts. We don’t know how many times he batted.
So – Lip Pike played for the Brooklyn Atlantics in 1870, but he did NOT play for them in 1871. Why not? Here’s the answer:
According to Wikipedia: “However, when the major professional clubs formed the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players in 1871, Atlantic declined to field a team. As a result, their best players, including George Zettlein, Bob Ferguson, Joe Start and Lip Pike, jumped to other clubs.”
So – why is this important? Because I have recognized that cursed teams often have 84-year curses on them. These curses can be for “throwing games” – that is, deliberately playing poorly because of pressure from gamblers. Not only did the 1919 Black Sox throw the World Series that year, but there were other players who played “less than their best”, like the 1912 Red Sox, the 1914 Philadelphia Athletics, the 1918 Chicago Cubs, AND the 1918 Boston Red Sox. Or, they could be for treating a blessed individual disrespectfully – like when the Cubs and their fans at Wrigley disrespected Babe Ruth in Game Three of the 1932 World Series, when he called his shot, cursing the Cubs until this year. Or it could be for mistreating players because they were black – like another possible curse on the Cubs for what Cap Anson did to Moses Fleetwood Walker, the last black player in Major League Baseball until Jackie Robinson. Anson, founder of the franchise that would become the Cubs, refused to play in a game in 1884 against the team Walker was playing for. Starting in 1885, the “Gentleman’s Agreement” not to hire black players, was in effect. That led, I believe, to the Cubs “Miracle Collapse” in 1969… 84 years later.
Jewish players are blessed players, not based on their own merit, but based on the blessing Elohim promised Abram (later Abraham) in Genesis 12: “I will bless those who bless you [ namely, the Jewish people] and I will curse those who curse you.” Follow the timeline: June 14, 1870 – Lip Pike was playing for the Brooklyn Atlantics when they beat the Cincinnati Red Stockings to give them their first loss. But: the first professional Baseball League, the National Association, begins play in 1871, but the Brooklyn Atlantics (and every other Brooklyn team) did not join. Why not? Could there have been a dispute that involved Pike? Maybe they were disrespectful to him by refusing to field a professional team in 1871. So what did Lip Pike do? He signed with the Troy Haymakers, near Albany.
Here’s Wikipedia again, to show that it’s not just ME saying these things: The Brooklyn Atlantics joined the National Association (considered the first professional league and the precursor of the National League) in 1872, but suffered losing records in each of its four seasons in the league. The Atlantics were not invited to join the National League when it was formed in 1876, but continued to play an independent schedule until at least 1882.
Lip Pike played for other teams in the National Association, but not for the Atlantics. He played in the National League, but in other cities (like St. Louis and Cincinnati), but not for Brooklyn.
Sports Illustrated a few years ago traced the lineage of the Atlantic Baseball Club to the Dodgers: While these teams played in the NA and other amateur and professional leagues, the team in the National League now known as the Dodgers was established in 1890. Here’s the name timeline:
1855-1884 Brooklyn Atlantics
1885-1887 Brooklyn Grays
1888-1890 Brooklyn Bridegrooms
1891-1895 Brooklyn Grooms
1896-1898 Brooklyn Bridegrooms
1899-1910 Brooklyn Superbas
1911-1912 Brooklyn Dodgers (the first time they were officially the Dodgers)
1913 Brooklyn Superbas (Ebbets Field opened)
1914-1931 Brooklyn Robins (the official name in the 1916 and 1920 World Series’)
1932-1956 Brooklyn Dodgers (actually, in 1957, they still played in Brooklyn)
1957-present Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers were first unofficially called “The Trolley Dodgers” or just “The Dodgers” in 1895, because the people of the busy city (not a borough until 1898) were very adept at not getting run over by the high volume of trolleys that they frequently crossed in front of. The first time the name became official was in 1911, but it finally stuck for good starting in 1932. Shortly after that, in 1933, the Dodgers picked up another ironically affectionate nickname, “Dem Bums.” Brooklyn fans were aware of their “under-dog” status when compared to the “New York Giants” and “the New York Yankees”, but they relished it. (It’s the same way Philadelphia fans love the image of a “blue collar” town; that’s why they loved the scruffy-looking 1993 team).
So – were the Dodgers cursed? If you know anything about their history in Brooklyn, you don’t even have to ask. They lost the 1916 World Series to the Boston Red Sox; they lost the 1920 World Series to the Cleveland Indians (manifested by a very strange, unique play: Cleveland’s second baseman pulled off the one and only unassisted triple play in Series history). They lost in 1941 to the Yankees – with the strange, unique Mickey Owens’ passed ball that allowed the Yankees to come back and win); they lost in 1947 (to the Yankees again); they lost in 1949 (to Casey Stengel’s Bronx Bombers); they lost the last game of the 1950 season to the pennant-winning Phillies (featuring Pee Wee Reese’s “right field ledge home run” and Richie Ashburn playing a shallow centerfield with slugger Duke Snider at bat, enabling the weak-armed Whiz Kid to throw out the Dodger’s winning run at the plate); they lost in 1951 to the Giants when Bobby Thomson hit “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World”, the most memorable Moment in Baseball History (“The Giants Win the pennant! The Giants Win the pennant!). They won pennants in 1952 and 1953, but both times – again – they failed to defeat the Yankees.
But… in 1955, things turned around for the Dodgers. Behind the pitching of someone who wasn’t even there of the previous losses, the Dodgers FINALLY beat the Yankees behind the pitching mastery of rookie Johnny Podres. The curse was over! After going 0 – SEVEN in World Series play… and going 0 – SEVEN since 1947 (including the losses to the Phillies and the giants), the Brooklyn Dodgers finally won the World Championship of Baseball. The great Vin Scully, who has announced Dodgers games since 1950, picked that moment as his single greatest call.
So what was different about 1955? Well, it’s fascinating to note that a player who wasn’t even there when the Dodgers won the seventh game had a critical role in removing the Dodgers’ curse. In December of 1954, Brooklyn signed a hometown boy as a” bonus baby” – Jewish kid, born Sandford Braun, but, after taking his step-father’s last name as a young child, his name was Koufax – Sandy Koufax. It was also 84 years since 1871 when… the Brooklyn Atlantics disrespected their hometown boy, one of their best players, Lip Pike. Funny – these must all be coincidences.
Is it also coincidental – or providential – that the Dodgers won three championships (1959, 1963, and 1965) in the next few years, behind the pitcher who was often absolutely unhittable from 1961 to 1966… who was so dominant in his time that he was elected to the Hall of Fame as the youngest man ever, even though he didn’t come close to 200 wins? A pitcher who hadn’t thrown a pitch in 50 years, but was so well known for his magnificent ability that he was the only pitcher who was elected by the fans in 2015 as one of the 4 Greatest Living Ballplayers? Who, at 79, threw a strike to relative youngster Johnny Bench that “had something on it)?
No coincidences! It’s the undeniable hand of Yahweh, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus the Messiah!