Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April 20, 1884: The Maroons Open The Season With a Win In St. Louis

     On April 20, 1884, the Maroons of the Union Association beat the Chicago Browns 7-2 at the Uniton Base Ball Park in St. Louis. A crowd of more than 10,000 witnessed the rain-shortened ballgame, which was called after just six innings due to the conditions. One fan who sat in the stands at that day told the Post Dispatch that it was like watching men play ball while wearing ice skates.

     Chicago's hurler, Hugh Daily, who was also known as "one arm", due to an accident he suffered as a child, won the St. Louis crowd over with what was deemed an effective delivery. The Chicago Tribune (which is where the featured article appeared) said that Daily struck out no less than 10 men. While he had his moments, the one armed hurler got knocked around by the hard hitting veterans of the St. Louis club, and was haunted by errors. That same article capped things off by saying the Maroons were not a lock to win the Union Association pennant like most had expected before the season began, That article was wrong. In fact, the Maroons were so dominant, going 94-19 on the season, that they have been attributed to the collapse of the short lived league. Not one other team in the league could hold a candle to them.

      The Union Association folded after the 1884 season. The league had aspirations of taking players away from the American Association and the National League. However, it was looked at as an inferior product overall and just could not compete with the big boys. Most historians do not consider the Union Association a true major league. Although, there were decent players sprinkled throughout, and fraction of them would find their way to big league rosters after the league disappeared into the past.  The only team in the Union Association that may have been considered anything close to a major league ballclub were the Maroons, and the only man who was considered a true star was the Maroons, Fred Dunlap. Dunlap hit an eye-popping .412 during that 1884 season, and would go onto have a decent career at the major league level.

     The Maroons joined the National League after the Union Association folded. However, they could not compete with the St. Louis Browns (who would be known as the Cardinals in less than twenty years). The Browns were poised to go on a historic run that led to four straight American Association pennants beginning in 1885. The Browns dominance ended up pushing the Maroons out of town to Indianapolis where they become known as the Hoosiers. The club competed in the National League until the end of the 1887 campaign, never coming close to the days they had during that 1884 season in St. Louis. While the team would end up being a part of baseball's forgotten past, today they are remembered.

Read about the ole ballpark here:

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