The Orioles batted first, against Amos Rusie. Willie Keeler poked a pitch to left field. Two batters later he was thrown out at home plate.
Then Rusie shut Baltimore down. The dampness of the day helped his grip, so he made the most of his speed. The Giants, with something to prove, played with determination. In four consecutive innings, they scored a run.
The Orioles looked sharp in black and orange, but they were listless. Nary a Baltimore runner had crossed the plate when John McGraw opened the ninth with a single past third base. Two batters later, his daring baserunning found him crossing the plate. Then Hughey Jennings hit a slow roller to third and, as everyone could see, beat the throw to first.
The umpire called him out.
The Orioles kicked and kicked, to no avail. They were certain that the umpires -- two, for such a series -- favored New York. Even a Giants coach confided his amazement.
One batsman later, the Giants had won the first game.
Clearly this series was a matchup between pitching and hitting. Every regular in Baltimore's lineup had batted better than .300 for the season. The Giants' pitchers, Rusie and Meekin, were the best pair in the League.
Yet that was not the matchup that mattered the most. One team had a reason to win. The other one -- its three best players, especially -- did not.
The tension erupted before the second game began. The Giants were warming up at Union Park as the cranks wandered around the outfield when Eddie Burke, the little left fielder, suddenly hurled a baseball as hard as he could, a witness said afterward -- at a young man's face. A hundred men and boys crowded in on the outfielder until the police drove them off.
The game had its thrills. For the Orioles some of the vigor was back. As the ninth inning started, with the score 5 to 5, the Giants' leadoff batter tapped a good-natured ground ball to Hughey Jennings. As he made ready to scoop it up, the ball struck a pebble and bounced over his head. After another Giant got on base, Eddie Burke hit an easy bounder to Hughey. The shortstop needed only to touch second base, a step away, and throw to first. But he started to move before the ball was in his hand.
A moment later another Giant cleared the bases with a triple. The Temple Cup Series suddenly stood at two games to none.
As the Giants climbed onto their horse-drawn omnibus, with its wagon wheels and open sides, Eddie Burke was nearly hit by a flying piece of brick.
More than twenty thousand New Yorkers thronged the Polo Grounds two afternoons later. Amos Rusie pitched. Neither team scored an earned run. The Orioles made more errors and lost again, 4 to 1.
The Orioles took an early lead the next afternoon. Suddenly the game became a burlesque. Joe Kelley made three errors, and the twirlers were mutton pie. The Giants ran the bases at will. The pennant winners looked like tailenders. To lose 16 to 3 -- it was humiliating.
"Baltimore's in the Cold, Cold Ground," the crowd of ten thousand sang. The Temple Cup was New York's.
Each Giant's share came to $768, each Oriole's to $360. Amos Rusie was a gentleman. Before leaving for Indiana he left $200 for Joe Kelley. The other Giants welshed. Jack Doyle denied that he and Willie Keeler had agreed to anything.
Nick Young, the League's president, assured anyone who asked that the Orioles, having won the pennant, were truly the champions. But he had to keep saying so.
From Where They Ain't: The Fabled Life And Untimely Death Of The Original Baltimore Orioles Copyright © 1999 by Burt Solomon. Reprinted with permission.