Season Recap: 1890
League Champion: Brooklyn Bridegrooms
1890 – In the first of many lawsuits filed against Players League members by their former teams, a judge refuses to grant an injunction against John Ward, president of the Brotherhood. His decision, echoed frequently by other judges, states that the “want of fairness and mutuality” in the standard National League contract, specifically the clauses relating to the reserve rule, “[is] apparent.”
1890 – Sam Rice is born in Morocco, Indiana. A quick outfielder with a great arm, Rice will lead the American League in hits twice, in stolen bases once, and collect at least 200 hits on six occasions, while finishing in the top ten in batting average eight times. Rice will gain election to the Hall of Fame in 1963.
4/18/1890 – The Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association won 12-9 at home against the Rochester Hop Bitters. According to the boxscore in the Philadelphia Inquirer the next day, Wilbert Robinson of the Athletics batted out of turn, but the story about the game had no additional information.
It is Opening Day in the National League. At West Side Park in Cincinnati, the Chicago Colts spoil the official opening of the new park by beating the Reds, 4 – 3, with two runs in the bottom of the 9th inning. This is the first professional game ended in “sudden death,” as the old rules required that the full inning be played out even if the team batting last was already ahead.
St. Louis (American Association) P Jack Stivetts hits two homers (and strikes out 10)‚ the second a grand slam in the top of the 9th‚ off Fred Smith‚ with his team down by 3 runs to win‚ 9 – 8‚ over visiting Toledo. He will later duplicate this batting feat twice, hitting a pair of homers on August 6‚ 1891‚ and on June 12‚ 1896‚ making him the first pitcher to achieve this. The only two pitchers to match this achievement are Wes Ferrell (who had 5 such games) and Don Newcombe.
6/28/1890 – Less than a month later, the Brooklyn Wonders batted out of turn against the Cleveland Infants in Cleveland. Although he batted in the proper order in the second inning when Brooklyn scored five runs, and presumably again before the fifth, Paul Cook batted out of order in that inning. No further details are known.
7/10 – 7/12/1890: The Pittsburgh at Boston Players League games were thrown out because Boston illegally used a player, Gil Hatfield, on loan from the New York team in the league. There were four homers hit in the three games that were removed from the official records: 7/10: Boston’s Hardy Richardson in the second and Dan Brouthers in the eighth. 7/11: Richardson in the eighth. 7/12: Richardson in the thirdRichardson also homered, which counted, in his next two games, so he lost a streak five games.
Appearing in his only major league game, Mr. Lewis (first name unknown) yields 13 hits, walks seven batters, and allows 20 earned runs during the three innings of his major league debut at Brooklyn’s Eastern Park. The rookie’s performance contributes to the last place Buffalo Bisons’ 28-16 loss to the Wonders in the Players’ League contest.
John Reilly becomes the first major leaguer to hit for the cycle in different leagues when the Reds, who moved to the National League this season, beat Pittsburgh at League Park, 16-3. The Cincinnati first baseman hit for two cycles in 1883, also a first, when the team played in the American Association and were known as the Red Stockings.
1890 – Brooklyn wins three games in one day‚ feasting on Pittsburgh 10 – 9‚ 3 – 2‚ and 8 – 4. In the first game, the losers are down 10 – 0 with 2 out in the 9th‚ then score 9 runs. The game ends as Doggie Miller hits a bases-loaded triple and is out trying to make it a game-tying homer. The three losses extend Pittsburgh’s losing streak to 22; it will reach 24 before they win again.
1890 – In the Players League, after the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Burghers clubs combine with their National League rivals, Al Spalding buys out Chicago’s PL backer, John Addison, for $18,000, some of which goes to pay off unpaid salaries and reimburse players half of their investments. Spalding gets the club’s grandstand, equipment, and player contracts.