Thursday, February 3, 2011

On June the 18th, 1905, a Bronx team called the Mercers hosted the Interborough Railroad Company team at Corona Park. The day was hot and something nefarious was afoot.

The first inning saw a foul ball break far to the outside and hammer into the head of a girl in the stands. The New York Times reported.

"She fell as if shot."

In the top of the second, one of the Railroad men walloped another fly, and this time the ball (always heavily coated with tobacco juice and liquorice spit, sometimes with blood), struck 18-year-old James Humboldt just below the sternum, hard.

"He went down and out and they carried him to Fordham Hospital."

During the bottom of that same inning- still only the second- a spectator named Henry Stern collapsed in the heat. He followed Humboldt to the hospital.

The IRT team retired the side and went up to bat. The Mercers brought their best defense. Their center fielder made a spectacular catch, and the crowd went wild. James McDermott cheered so hard that he found himself in the throes of an epileptic fit. He too had to be carried out of the grandstand.

The fourth inning came and went without incident, and it seemed perhaps that the spell had lifted, "moved off to the north,"in the parlance of the Times. Once again the visiting team took their place at the plate. And then, without warning, the trouble returned.

A foul rocketed off an Interborough bat and landed squarely in the eye of young Louis Dallinger. He in turn landed at Fordham, bringing the total number of hospital admits to three in four and a half innings. The additional misfortune provided the umpire sufficient cause to call the game, and he did so promptly. A hoodoo hung over the park, he said, and "to let this match go any further would be little short of a crime."

In four innings and a half innings of play, The Mercers (the home team) managed to score 17 runs, their IRT opponents six. Make of that what you will.

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