Clipping:Professional baseball teachers

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Date Saturday, December 15, 1866

The time has arrived when professional ball players, like professional cricketers, have become necessary to the growth and establishment of the game. Students in college, clubs of young men in country towns, and collections of amateurs, desirous of becoming “posted” in the points of the game find it desirable and advantageous to engage some experienced player to become connected with their club for a season of a few weeks or months for the purpose of teaching them the game, and these services they are willing to pay for. This has been done to a considerable extent this season, and we know of some very worthy members of the fraternity who have left town to pass a few weeks at a collegiate institute, and to earn pecuniary compensation, in order to teach the students the points of the game. This has been done legitimately, and those who have done it would scorn to do an unworthy action. This demand for teachers will increase each year, and we see no reason why the teaching of base ball cannot be as honorably followed as an occupation as that of any other exercise or recreation. As a class, professional cricketers–judging from those of this country–are among the most honest and worthy men of any class of our citizens, and we cannot see why a class of base ball professionals cannot grow up equally honest. Far better is it that this making a business of base ball playing be guided into a legitimate channel, than that it should be allowed to be carried on in the underhanded style in which it has been of late years, and especially this past season. This is a view of the subject which we think it advisable for the fraternity to reflect upon, and if it e properly considered in the right light, and an official recognition of a class of professional ball players be adopted by the Convention, we think a complete stop will be put to the system of hiring playing t win matches, and that is the even that is doing the most mischief in the future welfare of the game.

There are many young men, now in the fraternity, whose skills as experts in the game, and whose ardent love for the sport, is such as to make them unfit for any of the every day occupations of a business life. This class, naturally seeking to gratify their taste for the game, and yet placed in such positions as to make them neglect their regular occupations to follow their peculiar end, of course, resort to such opportunities for”making things square”–that is, making a living and playing ball at the same time–as are afforded by playing in clubs for a regular compensation, or in accepting money for their services in the form of occasional gifts, and if this thing cannot be done, of resorting to a worse course of action, such as that for which the three players of the Mutual club were drummed out of the fraternity last year. By making professional ball playing a legitimate occupation, much of the evils of the the hiring system will be done away with, and what is now done on the sly can be openly done before all. In fact, by recognizing professional ball players, and yet excluding them from all match games–except such games as those in which professionals will play professionals only–we give the very class of men who desire to make ball paying a business an opportunity of doing so honestly, instead of, as now, by dishonorable and deceptive means.

While base ball was a mere pastime for a few city clubs, it was all very well to frown down any attempts to make it anything else; but we cannot control events, and now that the furore for the game has made base ball the National game of America, and brought it prominently before the public as the most effectual means of introducing physical culture, an element of national advancement as important almost that of mental education, it becomes necessary to provide such means for the proper advancement of the game as will deprive it of the evils connected with almost every exciting sport of a nature that may be made its peculiar institution. Where money is to be made, men will resort to the means of making it. If we can, therefore, guide them by an honest path to the goal of their ambition, let us do it, rather than force them to seek it by the wise road of dishonor and fraud. New York Clipper December 15, 1866

There are dozens of young men physically competent to become expert players, whose love for the game and devotion to it unfits them for the ordinary business occupations of life, and this class it is who are professional players, for, in order to “make things square,” that is, earn a living and yet devote their time to ball play, they tender their services for pay sub rosa, and, under the disguise of ordinary members of the clubs, take part in match games and win trophies for clubs who would otherwise occupy a secondary position. This is the system that should be done away with, and as there is no rule stringent enough, and none that can be made so binding as to prevent this fraudulent system of paying for the services of experts, the best way is to create a class of professional ball players, make their occupation a legitimate one, and exclude them from taking part in club match games. By this means every club will stand upon the merits of its legitimate members, and those of the class we refer to, who desire to form professional nines, and to play matches like the All England eleven do at cricket in England can do so. By this means the gambling class will be excluded from interesting themselves in clubs, and confine their attentions to contests in which professionals alone take part. Philadelphia City Item December 15, 1866, citing the Brooklyn Union.

Source New York Clipper
Submitted by Richard Hershberger
Origin Initial Hershberger Clippings


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