Louisville Grays

From BR Bullpen

Win-Loss Record: 65-61-3

Ballpark: Louisville Baseball Park (April 25, 1876-September 29, 1877)

The Louisville Grays was Louisville’s first major league team. They were one of the founding members of the National League when the league was formed in 1876. Managed by outfielder Jack Chapman, the Grays opened the season at Louisville Baseball Park on April 25th, with a 4-0 shut-out to the Chicago White Stockings. The Grays became the first NL team to be shutout. The team would lose their first three games before defeating the St. Louis Brown Stockings 11-0. The team would finish the season in 5th place with a 30-36-3 record. The 1877 Grays team was an improvement over the previous year's. As with last season, the team lost its home opener and opening day game, this time to the Cincinnati Red Stockings by a score of 12-5. The team would bounce back for its first win 2 days later against the Red Stockings winning 12-8. By the end of July the team would reach first place, and would remain there for the next 42 days. However by the middle of August, the team’s fortunes would change. The Grays would go on an 8 game losing streak and lose the next 11 games out of 14 dropping the club out of first place and down to third. The club would end the season in 2nd place with a 35-25-1 record. The team’s play would raise suspicions amongst fans, writers and club officials when a series of articles written by John Haldeman, the son of club president Walter Haldeman, would eventually lead to the lifetime ban of four players: Pitcher Jim Devlin, outfielder George Hall, utility player Al Nichols and shortstop Bill Craver.

According to the Younger Haldeman, Devlin, Hall and Nichols, were in league with gamblers to throw games. Craver was included due to his previous run-ins with gamblers, though whether or not he actually threw games like his fellow teammates is harder to determine. The popular theory that the players threw games so that the Boston Red Stockings would win the league pennant is not true. Most players, if not most teams, did not know where they stood in the standings. The Cincinnati Red Stockings would drop out during the season, and then would reappear with new owners, causing some confusion amongst the teams. The Courier-Journal, Louisville’s newspaper ran three NL Standings. In one, the standings had the Red Stockings as two separate teams; the second the Cincinnati club was combined as one; finally in the last one had all the teams, excluding Cincinnati. At the annual league meeting, it was decided to throw out all the games that Cincinnati played in. This gave the pennant to Boston, with a 3 game lead over Louisville. Both Louisville and St. Louis were expelled from the league: The Grays due to their four players with ties to gambling, and the Brown Stockings for signing Devlin and Hall. Both cities would return to the major leagues for the 1882 season as members of the American Association and then later in 1892 would rejoin the National League.

It should be pointed out that modern references to the 1877 season have included the Red Stockings win-loss record, giving Boston a 7 game lead over Louisville.

Further Reading[edit]

  • William A. Cook: The Louisville Grays Scandal of 1877: The Taint of Gambling at the Dawn of the National League, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2005. ISBN 978-0-7864-2179-4

Source:

  • Peter Filichia: Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebrations of All 273 Major League and Negro League Ballparks Past and Present, Addison Wesley Publishing Company (March 1993)
  • Philip Von Borries: “The Louisville Baseball Almanac” Arcadia Publishing, Jul 16, 2010
  • John E. Kleber: “The Encyclopedia of Louisville” University Press of Kentucky, Jan 13, 2015
  • Louisville Four