1890 - Our First Pennant

In 1890, the MCC team went through the season losing only 2 games and played the Metropolitans in a deciding game for the pennant, the MCC Baseball Section became the inaugural winners of the VBL's Spalding Trophy.

 

In 1890, the MCC team went through the season losing only 2 games, once to Richmond C.C. and once to the Metropolitans.  They had split their two encounters with the Metropolitans at one win each, losing the first match 15 to 5 and winning the second match 14 to 2.

As the teams had finished the season equal on points it was decided to play a match to decide the winner of the Spalding trophy. The MCC won the pennant and held the Spalding trophy for the first time. MCC Test cricketer, William Bruce was named Victoria’s most proficient player.

The match was originally scheduled for the 2nd of August where it was to be played in front of His Excellency the Governor General and before the Carlton vs. South Melbourne football match on the MCG.

However, due to the state of the ground, it was postponed until August 9th. The match was played on the Wesley College ground, the Melbourne team was comprised of Bruce, Ross (captain), Dunne, Cohen, Dickson, Irwin (two), Curr, McIllwraith, Cotter, and Lockerman.

Melbourne was presented with a shield in September 1890 in lieu of a pennant.

 

From the Australasian 1890 August 16th:

 

BASEBALL ITEMS.

BY HURRY ON.

The first season of baseball in Victoria was brought to a termination last Saturday on the Wesley College around, and the Melbourne Cricket Club nine will be entitled to fly the premiership pennant next season, alone with being able to lay the flattering unction to their souls that they have achieved one out of- the three successes that are necessary before any club can lay undisputed claim to the precession of Mr. A. G. Spalding's very handsome trophy. Looking back at the season just past, it must be written of as a pronounced success in every way. So far as the play is concerned the improvement made has been something marvellous – albeit not a whit more marvellous than is the hold the great American pastime has taken both on the participants and the spectators. That there is a great future before baseball in Australia has been made manifest by the absorbing interest the mere handful of enthusiasts who started the game in Victoria have already aroused therein.

 

MELBOURNE CRICKET CLUB B.C.

V. METROPOLITAN B.C.

The final match for the season between these clubs took place on the Wesley College ground on Saturday afternoon, when a large number of baseball enthusiasts put in an appearance. The game was started at half-past 2 o'clock, and occupied close upon two hours, Mr. C. Alexander filling the important position of umpire. Prior to the commencement of the game the chances of the Metropolitan nine were most fancied, but when it became apparent that the M.C.C. battery (Bruce and T. Irwin) were strung up to concert pitch for the occasion the difficult task that the Metropolitans had set them became evident. The ground was not in the best of order, and the lines of demarcation were not over clearly defined, the consequence being that on two or three occasions there were symptoms of disapproval of Mr. Alexander's decisions. These were mere effervescences, however, and taken as a whole the game was contested in the best possible spirit. The cricketers led from the start, and at the end of the sixth completed innings were 9 runs ahead. Then McKay relieved Milford as pitcher, and actually held the M.C.C. at their then score for the full tale of nine innings. In doing this he gauged his deliveries with such a degree of nicety that only one ball was struck outside the diamond-a remarkable feat, indeed. Against this, however, Bruce's left hand never flagged, and being backed up by some peerless fielding he succeeded in gaining the first premiership pennant in Victorian baseball for the M.C.C. B.C, together with a leg in the Spalding Trophy. The game was a splendid trial of skill and dexterity, the magnificent catches in the out field being ably backed up by some marvellously dexterous pieces of play from the catcher to second, and from third to first base, full particulars of which will be found in the subjoined description of the game:-

T. Irwin was the first to advance to the home plate on behalf of the cricketers, but the second ball he gave a chance to Stuckey at short stop, of which that player gladly availed himself. Dunne, who succeeded him, took his first base through being hit with a pitched ball, but was ran out on attempting to steal second. Bruce made a base hit, got to first and stole away to second; his example being followed by H. Irwin. Both these players were brought home by a splendid stroke of Ross’s, who was unfortunately left on third base through Dickson being retired on strikes. Then the Metropolitans tried their hand, McKay being their pioneer batsman. Strangely enough he too fell a victim in a similar fashion to T. Irwin - namely, at short stop; Graham, who followed him, being disposed of by a smart piece of fielding from the pitcher to first baseman, whilst Newbert spooned one up in the air which Bruce took all sorts of care never reached terra firma.

Two runs to nil was a very fair start for the M.C.C. and the Major smiled audibly as Cohen, after taking his first base on a hit, eventually supplemented it by trotting over the home plate in safety. But a change quickly came o'er the spirit of the scene as McIllwraith and Dunne struck out, whilst a fly to Lear sent Bruce to the rightabout. The second innings of the Metropolitan nine was peculiarly disastrous. Brown reached first in excellent style on a base hit, but in attempting to force to second T. Irwin had the ball in like lightning to second base, and out he had to go. Then Stuckey missed the fatal three strikes, and McAlister, after reaching first all right, foolishly fell a victim to exactly the same bit of play that had lost Brown the number of his mess, the catcher sending the ball down to Ross with the velocity and precision of a catapult. The Metrop. Pitcher, whose deliveries had been exceptionally good on the whole, was again unlucky enough to strike Harry Irwin, and the misadventure resulted in that player obtaining the only ran scored by the cricketers in their third innings, Ross being retired through playing a ball to first base, Dickson falling a victim on an attempted steal to second through the dexterity of McKay and Newbert, whilst Cohen found Milford's curves altogether too good for him and retired on strikes. A fly to third base proved disastrous to Lear, and matters were beginning to assume a very sombre hue for the pioneers of Australian baseball when Laver came to the rescue with a magnificent drive between the right and centre fieldsmen, which resulted in a two-bagger. Milford, however, failed to reach first, Bruce assisting materially in his downfall; but McKay not only brought Laver home, but succeeded in reaching the desired haven himself, prior to Graham closing the innings by driving one to McIllwraith which was returned to first base ere he got there.

McIllwraith led off the M.C.C. fourth innings by offering Stuckey a favour, which the short stop accepted with thanks, and Milford, as if to show his appreciation of Stuckey's debonair behaviour, immediate caused Curr to rightabout face with three undeniable ones. Tom Irwin's eyes were with a fine frenzy rolling as he witnessed this series of disasters; but, rising to the occasion, with a mighty swipe to the outfield he secured two-bases. Emboldened by this successes, in an evil moment he attempted to purloin another 90ft., the result being that Mr. C. Alexander's "Out on third!" sounded resonantly in the wintry air.

“Only 4 runs to 2, and we have an innings to go. Hurry up, boys!" remarked Captain Milford, as he carefully rolled another cigarette; and the incentive seemed to spur Newbert on to deeds of derring-do, as he scampered merrily round the bases after getting to first on a base hit. The next batsman; Brown, had the sympathy of the spectators when Mr. Alexander declared him out on first; the general opinion being that he was safe. However the umpire was in the best position to judge, and although there was a slight ebullition of temper at the time it soon passed over, the more quickly as Stuckey was run out by a return from second base to first base, whilst McAlister had the misfortune to lift a ball far out in the left field, but not sufficiently far enough to prevent Dunne clutching it.

On proceeding to bat this last-named player was given his base on balls - the first occurrence of this kind during the game. Bruce brought him home with a lovely two-bagger, and then he, H. Irwin, and Ross each crossing the home-plate, it appeared as if the Metropolitans were in for a flurrying. Not so, however, as a smart piece of fielding between Newbert and Lear gave Dickson his quietus, while Graham fairly brought down the house by a splendid effort which retired Cohen on the fly - "hoist with his own petard." T. Irwin made a safe hit to centre field, off which he attempted to score two bases, but was retired at second; whilst McIllwraith, who had taken matters very leisurely from third towards the home plate - so leisurely, indeed, that Curr was within a few yards of him when he crossed it – was adjudged by Mr. Alexander not to have crossed in time, the consequence being that the M.C.C. lost 1 run. The umpire's decision - though undoubtedly erroneous - was excusable under the circumstances. Lear, McKay, and Graham came and went for the dreaded duck in the Metropolitan's fifth innings; and when Dunne, H. Irwin, Ross, and Dickson put on a run each in the M.C.C.'s sixth it certainly looked any odds on the cricketers; all the more so when Newbert (fly to centre field), Brown (foul fly secured by Bruce), and Stuckey (fly to Dickson) failed to alter the position of affairs, which then stood - six innings each; M.C.C, 12; Metropolitan B.C., 3.

The old adage reads that "when things are at the worst they must change," and being evidently impressed with the truth of this Captain Milford retired from the pitcher's box, which became occupied by McKay; Newbert assuming the mask, whilst Stuckey went to second base, Laver to short stop, and Milford to right field. Never was the benefit of a change better exemplified; and never did young McKay show to better advantage what a splendid tactician he really is. T. Irwin went to first through being struck by the pitcher, and having stolen to second he took advantage of a hard drive by Dunne straight down the diamond to try and achieve third. But Stuckey, securing the ball on the fly, was enabled to put in a pretty piece of double play which roused the utmost enthusiasm amongst the spectators, and was intensified as H. Irwin was assisted out by Newbert to Lear. It was taken as an omen of good by the supporters of the Metropolitan team when McAlister was awarded his base on balls, and their spirits rose still higher when he and Lear both got home. They fell again, however, when Laver and Milford succumbed to misplaced confidence after reaching first; the revulsion being again completed by McKay, Graham, Newbert, and Brown each doing the needful ere the third man out (Stuckey) fell before the unerring aim of T. Irwin to second base. “Six runs in one innings, and only 3 runs behind, with two innings to go! Oh, let us be joyful!'' was the Metropolitan refrain as the wily McKay once more projected his under-the-shoulder curves. Whang! and the ball flics smartly out to the left field. Too smartly. Alas! for Brown whips it up like lightning, and straight back to Lear it flies ere Ross can reach the mat. Dickson comes next, only to retire on strikes - a fate that should have befallen Cohen had not the catcher and first baseman decided to divide the honour of his decapitation between them. Now was the opportunity for the Metropolitan team to show what manner of men they were, and sturdily did they buckle to. Whang! and the ball flies high in the  air on foul ground. But it is not foul ground for Bruce, who watches it like a sleuth-hound, and whose anxious hands grasp it all too surely as it falls. Thus fell McAlister. Lear to the rescue! and that doughty warrior takes his stand with a do-or-die expression about him that portends mischief. Whang! again, and lo! the ball flies swift and sure to Curr, who makes no mistake about holding it, and Lear retires crestfallen. But Laver yet remains, and as the concluding "whang" greets our ears we become seized of the fact that it is the mightiest whang we have yet heard. Question and answer - "Where is it?" "Far out in the right field; do you not see Curr running back for it?” - come one on top of the other, and all eyes are strained watching the ball and its pursuer. "Yes!" "No!" "He can never, reach it?" "Habet! He has it!" And a perfect tumult of applause greets Curr's latest feat, whilst Major Wardill's face becomes a perfect study in relief.

Only one more innings each now remained, and when McIllwraith was put out from the pitcher to first base, Curr failed to negotiate three strikes, and T. Irwin again offered himself up as a sacrifice in a vain endeavour to steal on to second, there was still a possibility of the Metropolitans making a draw of it, if not actually scoring a win. But Bruce was inexorable. Milford out - 1 to 3. McKay out - 1 to 2 (on an attempt to steal home from third base), and Graham dead to the world on strikes, was the closing act of the drama; and after reciprocal cheers, and a general expression of “What a real jolly game it had been," the cry was, "Homeward Ho!"

The detailed scores in this memorable match were as follow :-

MELBOURNE CRICKET CLUB B.C.

Names and Positions.

Innings.

Total.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

T. Irwin, catcher

0

..

..

0

0

..

0

..

0

0

Dunne, left field

0

0

..

..

1

1

0

..

..

2

Bruce, pitcher

1

0

..

..

1

0

..

..

..

2

H. Irwin, short stop

1

..

1

..

1

1

0

..

..

4

Ross, second base

..

..

0

..

1

1

..

0

..

2

Dickson, first base

0

..

0

..

0

1

..

0

..

1

Cohen, centre field

..

1

0

..

0

..

..

0

..

1

McIllwraith, 3rd base

..

0

..

0

..

0

..

..

0

0

Curr, right field

..

..

..

0

..

0

..

..

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totals

2

1

1

0

4

4

0

0

0

12

 

METROPOLITAN B.C.

Names and Positions.

Innings.

Total.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

McKay, c. and p.

0

..

1

..

0

..

1

..

0

2

Graham, c. field

0

..

0

..

0

..

1

..

0

1

Newbert, 2nd base

0

..

..

1

..

0

1

..

..

2

Brown, 3rd base

..

0

..

0

..

0

1

..

..

1

Stuckey, s. s. & 2 b.

..

0

..

0

..

0

0

..

..

0

McAlister, left field

..

0

..

0

..

..

1

0

..

1

Lear, first base

..

..

0

..

0

..

1

0

..

1

Laver, r. f. & s. s.

..

..

1

..

..

..

0

0

..

1

Milford, p. & r. f.

..

..

0

..

..

..

0

..

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totals

0

0

2

1

0

0

6

0

0

9