One of the most famous 19th century baseball teams made a visit to Nashville's Athletic Park (later Sulphur Dell) in April 1893. The Baltimore Orioles played an exhibition game with the hometown Nashville Tigers, members of the Southern League.
The original Orioles were members of the minor league American Association (1882-91) and became members of the National League in 1892. Part owner and manager Ned Hanlon built a dynasty with several future Hall of Famers with a cutthroat style of play that was considered dirty baseball.
The Nashville newspaper, The Daily American, gave this report of the first game of the two-game series:
Although the Baltimore club defeated the Nashville team yesterday, the game played by the locals demonstrates very clearly that manager Sullivan has a great club. They played ball every minute of the time, and the large crowd present saw one of the prettiest game that a Nashville public has been treated to in a good long time.
The Baltimores justly rank amongst the first clubs of the National League and have had advantage of good steady practice during their protracted trip through the South, but the Nashvilles made it most interesting for them all along the line, and but for timely batting of Treadway and Stovey the game might have terminated differently. This was the first appearance with the locals, and it was signalized by a hearty greeting from the grand stand.
The Nashville manager was Ted Sullivan with George Treadway and Harry Stovey the Orioles right and left fielders. The Orioles scored in the first inning when a Treadway double scored shortstop John McGraw. In the sixth inning, Treadway stroked a home run over the right field fence. After being hit by a pitch in the eighth inning, McGraw scored after Stovey hit a triple over the center fielder's head. Nashville was scoreless and the game ended in the Orioles advantage, 3-0.
The Daily American reported on the Orioles game the next day:
The game yesterday between Nashville and Baltimore resulted in a tie, the score standing 9 to 9 in the ninth inning, when the game was called on account of darkness. Nashville was improving all the time and the chances are very strong that another inning would have resulted in Baltimore's defeat. A large crowd was present and enjoyed to its utmost the game, which, although not so abundant in brilliant plays as was the previous one, was a most interesting one and was noticeable for the hard hitting done by both sides.
It was reported that in the fourth inning, the lone umpire was removed from the game. The reason reported was "the visitors strongly objected on account of some very questionable decisions, and at the beginning of the fourth, Vickery took his place." It is interesting to note that Tom Vickery was a Nashville pitcher who played in the previous day's game. But then it was only an exhibition game. Treadway hit the only home run in the game.
The lineup for the famous Baltimore Orioles against Nashville included:
John McGraw, SS-McGraw played 16 seasons in the major leagues with Baltimore, St. Louis and New York Giants. Due to his personality that was arrogant and abrasive, he earned the name "Little Napoleon." The left-handed batter had a career .333 average in 1,099 games. McGraw also became a player-manager winning several pennants and three World Series (1906, 1921, 1922). He was named to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.
Heinie Reitz, 2B-Reitz was a seven-year major league veteran with three teams (Baltimore, Washington and Pittsburgh). He appeared in 723 games batting .292 (800-2,741) with 11 home runs and 462 runs batted in.
Harry Stovey, LF-Stovey began his major league career in 1880 with Worcester of the National League. Later he played for Philadelphia (American Association), Boston and Baltimore. He was a home run hitter in a dead ball era leading his team in home runs six times. Stovey collected 19 home runs in 1889, his personal high.
George Treadway, RF-Treadway's rookie season was in 1893 where he appeared in 115 games, batting .260 with one home run. Later he played for Brooklyn and Louisville of the National League. In his brief four-year career, Treadway hit .284 in 326 games.
Tim O'Rourke, 3B-O'Rourke played five seasons of major league baseball with Syracuse (American Association), Columbus (American Association), Baltimore and three teams in 1894 (Louisville, St. Louis, Washington). In his five years O'Rourke batted .291 in 387 games.
Willard Brown, 1B-Brown played in seven major league seasons beginning with New York in 1887. Later he played for St. Louis, Baltimore and Louisville. Brown batted .261 in 418 games.
Joe Kelly, CF-Kelly began a Hall of Fame career in 1891 with Boston. During that season he was traded to Pittsburgh before joining the Orioles in 1892. Kelly had his best season in 1894 batting .393 with 167 runs scored, second most in National League history. In his 17 major league years, Kelly batted .317 in 1,844 games. Kelly finished his career with Brooklyn, Cincinnati and the Boston Braves. The Veteran's Committee for the Hall of Fame selected Kelly in 1971.
Wilbert Robinson, C-Robinson began his major league career in 1886 with Philadelphia (American Association) before joining the Orioles in 1890. He played 17 seasons batting .273 in 1,371 games with 622 runs batted in and only 18 career home runs. Robinson also became a manager in 1914 with Brooklyn. His managerial career lasted 18 years with pennants in 1916 and 1920. Robinson was elected to the Hall of fame in 1945.
Fred Schmit, P-Schmit began his pitching career in the majors in 1890 with Pittsburgh. He only played five years compiling a 7-36 record with a 5.45 ERA.
Ned Hanlon, Manager-Nanlon's managerial career lasted longer than his playing career. He began his playing career with Detroit (1881-88) before becoming the Pirates manager in 1889. Hanlon joined the Orioles in 1892 and put together one of the 19th century's greatest teams. When the Orioles disbanded, he became Brooklyn's manager until 1905 and finished his career in Cincinnati (1906-07).
The 1893 Baltimore Orioles finished in eighth place (60-70) in a nine-team National League. The Orioles would win the National League championship in 1894, 1895, and 1896. Joining these championship teams were Hughie Jennings and Willie Keeler.
The Brooklyn Superbas (later known as the Dodgers) would absorb the Orioles later in the century when the National League dropped four teams. Hanlon would win pennants as a Brooklyn manager in 1899-1900. The original Baltimore Orioles no longer existed.
If you have any comments or suggestions you can contact Bill Traughber via email WLTraughber@aol.com.
Traughber was recently honored with a pair of awards by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association (TSWA) at its 2010 convention. He was named 2nd place "Best Feature Writer" in the Division III class for his "Looking Back" features on the Nashville Sounds website and captured 2nd place "Writer Of The Year" honors in the Division III class for his work on the Vanderbilt University Athletic website.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.