A Game of Brawl: The Orioles, the Beaneaters, and the Battle for the 1897 Pennant

A Game of Brawl: The Orioles, the Beaneaters, and the Battle for the 1897 Pennant

A Game of Brawl: The Orioles, the Beaneaters, and the Battle for the 1897 Pennant

A Game of Brawl: The Orioles, the Beaneaters, and the Battle for the 1897 Pennant

Synopsis

Not only was it probably the most cutthroat pennant race in baseball history; it was also a struggle to define how baseball would be played. This book re-creates the rowdy, season-long 1897 battle between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Beaneaters. The Orioles had acquired a reputation as the dirtiest team in baseball. Future Hall of Famers John McGraw, Wee Willie Keeler, and "Foxy" Ned Hanlon were proven winners--but their nasty tactics met with widespread disapproval among fans. So it was that their pennant race with the comparatively saintly Beaneaters took on a decidedly moralistic air.
Bill Felber brings to life the most intensely watched team sporting event in the country's history to that time. His book captures the drama of the final week, as the race came down to a three-game series. And finally, it conveys the madness of the third and decisive game, when thirty thousand fans literally knocked down the gates and walls of a facility designed to hold ten thousand to watch the Beaneaters grind out a win and bring down baseball's first and most notorious evil empire.

Excerpt

Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Before there were the Boston Red Sox or the Boston Braves—or even Fenway Park or the World Series—there were the Boston Beaneaters, a powerhouse baseball team at the top of the National League at the end of the nineteenth century. Before there was an American League, before there was the proud and widespread Red Sox Nation, there were the loud and fiercely loyal Boston baseball fans called the Royal Rooters.

My grandfather, John Francis Fitzgerald (“Honey Fitz” as he was called because of his beautiful singing voice), represented Boston in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1895 to 1901, and he was proud of his role in 1897 in creating the Royal Rooters, as the Beaneaters’ fans were known during the wild and wonderful early years of Boston baseball.

Growing up, I heard countless fascinating stories from Grampa about the Royal Rooters—how he helped create them with “Nuf Ced” McGreevy and other fans; how the Rooters would parade in the outfield and sing rousing renditions of “Tessie” and “Sweet Adeline” (Grampa’s favorite song) to get the crowd cheering before a big game; how the Beaneaters went on to become the Braves; how the Red Sox arrived after the creation of the American League in 1900; how as mayor in 1912 he threw out the first pitch at the first game ever played by the Sox at Fenway Park and the first pitch at the first World Series later that fall.

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