Sports, Violence and Riots

You might remember that last year, when the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup there were widespread riots in Vancouver. Similar things have happened in many cities across North America, but all pale in comparison to the 1894 game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Stockings.

(Despite the similarities in name, neither of these teams are the same as their current name sakes. The Orioles were contracted out of the National League in 1899 and the Red Stockings became the Braves in 1912. Both of the current teams were founded in 1901 and took the name of their National League predecessors.)

On May 15, 1894, the Orioles and Red Stockings (or Beaneaters as they were sometimes known) were playing a game at South End Grounds. John McGraw, who would later go on to become one of the great managers of the early 20th century, got into a fist fight with Boston’s third baseman. Both benches were cleared, and then the stands emptied as the entire crowd got into the fight.

Someone, and no one is completely sure who, set fire to the grandstand. The stands went up in flames along with 117 homes in the area. It was one of the most damaging games in all of professional sports.

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