Clipping:Richter on the Players League, player sales

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Date Wednesday, October 2, 1889

[editorial matter] There can be but little doubt that the movement of the Ball Players' Brotherhood to form an organization independent of and rival to the National League has assumed practical form and has been definitely decided upon, and the National League may as well prepare itself to reap the fruits of the miserable coddling policy it has pursued for years towards its stars, for whom it has sacrificed much in money, comfort, and sometimes principle, with the usual return of ever-increasing exaction, coupled with base ingratitude, and prepare itself for the greatest battle for supremacy, nay, for existence, base ball has ever witnessed.

...The fact, however, is that all the stated grievances of the Brotherhood are summarized in alleged breach of faith by the League, the adoption of the classification rule, and the perpetuation of the sales system. These are all the weighty causes for such supreme universal dissatisfaction as is stated to exist in the Brotherhood ranks. Now, why not be frank and admit that the chief basis for the revolt is in plain, unvarnished words—greed; a desire to absorb the supposed enormous profits of the business along with the salaries. There can be no other more potent ground for the rebellion, as the given reasons are not sufficiently weighty to induce such a radical step as the Brotherhood contemplates. First—the alleged breach of faith consists simply in a failure to write the full amount of salary in the contract, and that failure has been explained time and again. Second—The classification rule, which had become necessary for the preservation of the League, inflicted no hardships and did not conflict with the Brotherhood contracts, inasmuch as every star player was taken care of, not a single salary was shaved down except in the case of Sutcliffe, which case would have been, or will be, righted upon appeal, and the law was only designed for the future to put a check on the exactions of incoming new players. Surely this rule cannot be so very bad when the Brotherhood proposes to pay its players under their present classification figures, for the first season, at least, under the new order. Third—The sales “evil,” of which the players complain is no evil at all, but is a necessary part of the business which cannot be eliminated.... A club's chief assets are its players; outside of these it has really nothing to represent the money invested and the risks assumed except a ground and a lot of useless lumber. Under the sales system that club which has or secures the best players has the best assets, and is therefore strong financially, as it can show something of market value. The sales system is a necessary concomitant of the reserve rule and both are essential to the professional game. They add stability to the business and give clubs a financial standing and value that it was impossible to attain under the old wild-cat system, when at the end of a season a club not only had nothing to show in the way of assets except a lot of expired contracts and a grand stand, but had no certainty that it would be able to put any sort of team in the field in the following season. … take it as you will, the sales system is not an unmitigated evil (except inasmuch as it leads clubs into extravagance in purchasing and remunerating players), and the Brotherhood recognizes this fact in that it does not demand the abolition of the system, but simply a share in the proceeds of it; it merely insist upon a slice of the purchase money, thus showing conclusively that it is not a question of principle so much as a matter of personal gain.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger
Origin Initial Hershberger Clippings


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