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the Players' League Polo Grounds

Date Wednesday, January 22, 1890
Text

Workman began laying out the lines last Monday for the grounds of the new Players' League club in [New York]. They are at Eighth avenue and One Hundred and Fifty-seventh and One Hundred and Fifty-ninth streets, extending from the avenue line back to the bluff, a distance of 800 feet. The grand stand will be situated under the bluff and the men will bat toward Eighth avenue. There will be room for carriages and any amount of space for spectators. Tim Keefe says “it will be the finest ground in the world.” Architect David W. King will have the work in charge. The specifications provide for a double-decker grand stand seating from 6000 to 7000 people, with opera chairs, and free seats fro 14,000 people. The stand in form will resemble the present one at the Polo Grounds. There will be a carriage driveway on One Hundred and Fifty-ninth street, and on either side of it will be club houses for the players, fitted with all modern conveniences. A running track will encircle the field, and it is expected that some athletic club will use the grounds when not needed by the players. The contracts were awarded Friday.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the Players' League divided

Date Saturday, November 8, 1890
Text

Excuses and explanations by the dozen will not alter the glaring fact that these individual negotiations, immediately after the conference had been broken off...were directly responsible for the present deplorable situation of the Players' League. These individual negotiations defied and nullified the action of the Players' League; gave notice to the world and the enemy that the organization was divided against itself, and that it contained an element which would rule or ruin; exposed its weakness to the very party from which it should have been studiously concealed; put the Players' League clubs individually in the position of mendicants; made it difficult to meet bluff for bluff; depreciated the value of every franchise in the Players' League; and made it impossible for all of the Players' League clubs to treat with their League rivals upon even footing, or to exact an equitable settlement.

This is a heavy indictment, and yet a calm, unprejudiced survey of the situation will convince any fair-minded person that it has not been overdrawn in the least, and that these conditions confront the Players' League to-day as the direct, though perhaps unlooked-for, result of the reopening of unauthorized consolidation negotiations by the capitalist members of the Players' League Committee upon their own responsibility.

If anything of real value to base ball or towards a mutually satisfactory clearing up of the situation had been accomplished the end would perhaps have justified the means. But so far from achieving their object the few Players' League capitalists bent upon consolidation have actually defeated it. Had they accepted the decision of their organization and held hands off it is pretty certain that the League would in time have ceased bluffing, as it always does when bluff fails to work, reopened negotiations through the proper channel and with the regularly organized committees, and then the Players' League would have had the advantage of an equal footing, and been able to make satisfactory terms for all of its members. But the consolidationists manifested as little diplomacy here as they did in their dealings with the League when they showed their entire hand to the old magnates and in return got so little of a peep at the latter's hand, that while the League knew the exact conditions of affairs in the Players' League the latter has nothing but mere surmises as to the real situation in the League. They rushed in where angels would have feared to tread, showed their condition so plainly, their desire for consolidation and disregard for other considerations so completely...

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the Players' League lively ball

Date Saturday, June 14, 1890
Text

[from Chadwick's column] I notice by a paragraph in the New York World last week that the P.L. And N.L. regulation balls were tested at the Brotherhood Park in New York, and Mr. Dickenson states that “the difference was astonishing.”

“The heavier batters in the New York Club could not knock the old League ball as far as the lighter ones could bat the Player' League ball, and when one batter tried the two he could knock the Players' ball one hundred feet further than the one used by the Nationals. This in a measure plainly shows why it is that the scores in the Players' League are larger than those in the National League.”

He should have added that the foot and a half of increase in the distance between the box and the home plate also helps the Brotherhood batsmen. This does away with the absurd talk about “the superior batting of the P.L. teams.

Source The Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the advantage of batting second 2

Date Saturday, August 9, 1890
Text

The Cincinnati team will in all probability henceforth give opposing teams the first turn at the bat, as Captain Latham believes in taking the outs. He says:--”I know there is considerable talk about the advantage to be gained by getting the first rap at the ball, but that does not hold good now. It used to when only one ball was used. Now two balls, sometimes three and four, are brought into play during the game, and one team has no advantage over the other in this respect. When you have the last chance yo always known what is ahead of you, and the men play better ball.

Source The Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the benefit of catchers' mitts

Date Saturday, September 20, 1890
Text

[from Chadwick's column] What a great help to a catcher's record the padded gloves has been. Without it, with the great speed of the catchers of this season have had to face, there would have been a dearth of catchers able to continue behind the bat long ere this. As it is, here we have them catching over a hundred successive games, even beating the old-time records, such as that of Barnie, etc.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the benefit of good drainage

Date Friday, May 9, 1890
Text

[New York vs. Philadelphia PL 5/8/1890] Many games are called sloppy on acdount of the poor fielding, but yesterday's was not sloppy in that sense. The grounders, however, were exceedingly sloppy, especially the outfield. The players would have looked much more seasonable in bathing suits than ball suits, for the outfield was a perfect sea of mud. It was so thick that O'Rourke carried several planks into his territory to keep his feet dry and when the ball happened to drop in that neighborhood in invariably buried itself. The left and centre fields were very little better, the outfielders playing at a great disadvantage. The infield was a little better, but every now and then a fielder would drop in up to his ankles, and balls that should have been fielded had to be chronicled as base hits.

[Boston vs. Philadelphia NL 5/8/1890] The ground was soft and heavy, and it was only by a liberal use of sawdust that it was got into any kind of playing condition. The infielders had plenty of fun skating around the base lines, but notwithstanding these disadvantages the fielding, as a whole, was good.

Source Philadelphia Times
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the color line in a minor league

Date Saturday, July 26, 1890
Text

[Harrisburg jumps from the Interstate League to the Atlantic Association] The only objection to Harrisburg's admission was the fact that two colored players were members of the team. It was made a condition of admission that these colored men be released, but this Harrisburg declined to to. The Sporting Life July 26, 1890

[from the Harrisburg correspondent] The stand taken by the local management in the [Frank] Grant matter is commended on all sides. We would rather remain in the Interstate that to go into the Atlantic and dispense with the services of that hard-working player. The Sporting Life July 26, 1890

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the conference committee collapses

Date Saturday, October 25, 1890
Text

[reporting to aborted conference committee meeting of 10/21] At noon the National League and American Association members were in Parlor F in waiting for the Players' League delegates. Both committees were as before, Spalding, Day and Byrne for the League, and Thurman, Barnie and Von der Ahe for the American. Shortly after noon the original Players' League committee—Johnson, Talcott and Goodwin—made its appearance, reinforced by Ward, Hanlon and Irwin.

Then Chairman Thurman declined to call the meeting to order, stating that he was not chairman of a joint committee of twelve, but of nine representatives; that the National League, American Association and Players' League conference of Oct. 9 had been adjourned until Oct. 22, but that the presence of the players compelled him to refuse to act.

Finally Chairman Thurman suggested that the three players should retire temporarily so that the original committees could come together to consider the question of admitting the new members. The six Players' League men then retired from the room and went across the street to consider this proposition. After a fifteen-minutes' consultation they agreed upon a line of action and returned to the conference room. Mr. Johnson then stated that they had determined that perhaps it was best to convene as originally constituted, and then take up the question of new members. Messrs. Ward, Hanlon and Irwin then retired.

Immediately upon the retirement of these gentlemen Mr. Thurman called the conference to order. The minutes of the meeting of Oct. 9 were read, and the chairman thereupon read the communication above given and asked what action the meeting would take.

It was thereupon moved by Mr. Johnson and seconded by Mr. Talcott that inc ompliance with instruction from the Players' League their delegation to this conference be increased from three to six members by the addition to their delegation of John M. Ward, Ed. Hanlon and A. A. Irwin. A long discussion followed and during the heated part of the argument a motion was made to adjourn, but it was finally withdrawn. The vote was finally taken on Johnson's motion with the following result: [The three PL delegates for, the six NL and AA delegates against].

The chair then declared the motion lost, and the three delegates of the Players' League heretofore on the committee thereupon withdrew. On motion the committee adjourned subject to the call of the chair. The Sporting Life October 25, 1890

As was expected, the joint conference between the National League, American Association and Players' League committees did not take place on Wednesday, Oct. 22, because the two first-named committees refused to confer with the Players' League committee, to which three additional members had been added by the Players' League for its own protection. The objection of the National Agreement people was apparently based upon parliamentary grounds, but the real reason was that the additional Players' League members were ball players, with whom the League and Association people had previously announced their determination not to confer. The Sporting Life October 25, 1890

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the cost of balls

Date Saturday, July 19, 1890
Text

The Cincinnati Enquirer states that Loftus' club has to exercise more care in the use of base balls than they did last season, because a different system in regard to distribution of the regulation sphere obtains in the League from that in vogue in the American Association. In the latter organization clubs are privileged to use all the balls they want without charge, and the firm that furnishes them gives a handsome bonus for the word “official.” “In the League,” says the Enquirer, each club is charged at the rate of $1 a ball for every ball used. This money is taken by President young and is used to defray the running expenses of the League, such as umpires' fees and expenses. Of course the money is not given to any individual, but the club that uses the most balls is bound to pay the largest share into the League treasury. Hence considerable care is used in dealing them out.

Source The Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the division of duties between the two umpires

Date Wednesday, January 1, 1890
Text

[from the Players League rules] One of the umpire shall stand behind the bat, and is designated for the purpose of these rules as No. 1. The other umpire, standing in the field,shall be designated as No. 2. The two umpires may alternate at the end of each even inning. The duties of No. 1 will be to call all balls, strikes, blocks, dead balls, foul hits, foul strikes, intentional fouling of balls, all questions arising at the home plate or as to delays by the side at bat, or as to batsmen striking out of turn, and shall call play, time and game. No. 2 shall decide all other questions arising between the contestant in any game, including balks and illegal delivery.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the double umpire system

Date Saturday, September 20, 1890
Text

“This season ha brought out many peculiar incidents in relation to base ball,” says the New York Tribune, which then enumerates them as follows:-- “The double-umpiring system has been tried and found wanting. It has been illustrated that two poor umpires are worse than one. There has been twice as much wrangling in the Players' League, where the double-umpire system has been in vogue, as there has been in the National League, where one umpire has been the plan. Of course two good umpires would be better than one, but this season has shown that there are not enough good umpires to go around.

Source The Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the downfall of Sandy Nava to alcohol

Date Wednesday, January 22, 1890
Text

[from Chadwick's column] Did you notice the arrest of the old Providence catcher, Nava, last week for fighting in a low Baltimore dive? Here is another striking illustration of the downfall of a noted ball player by drink. The descent was from $2000 as catcher of a League club down by degrees from one fail to a still lower one, until we find him a bouncer in a wretched Baltimore dive. From ball playing to keeping a saloon, then as bartender, hackman, and now to the lowest round of drink degradation. What a lesson his career inculcates! And yet, even at this late dray, we find drinking players finding engagements. The managers who engage them are blind to their club's interests.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the effect of catchers' mitts

Date Saturday, August 2, 1890
Text

Since the advent of the big catchers' mitt a marked improvement has been shown in the work of the men behind the plate. The improved glove is what makes it possible for so many catchers to go in game after game for weeks.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the effect of the PL increased pitching distance

Date Saturday, May 3, 1890
Text

The pitchers of the new League are nearly all well-seasoned and have always pitched a certain distance, at which, by years of practice, they have become so accustomed that now it will take them some time before they can twist the ball so that it goes eighteen inches further before it curves, drops or shoots. Buffinton, in his first game in New York, could not at first realize why his famous “drop” struck the plate instead of going over before striking ground, and, as the ball dropped too soon, the batters did not “bite,” with the result that after two or three balls had been called on him he had to put it over straight, and they hit it in every direction.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the effect of the clean ball rule

Date Saturday, April 19, 1890
Text

[from Ren Mulford's column] Unless I miss my guess there will be more games won and lost in th4e first inning this year than were ever so conspicuously noted before. Why? That new rule preventing the old custom of dirtying “the clean face” of the ball the moment it is tossed into play will work this revolution. The pitcher who takes his turn in the box at the opening of the game will suffer the most. It is an impossibility to get a good grip on the polished surface of a ball just out of its silver swaddling clothes. The home team will always have the advantage of sentencing the pitcher of the rival team to work the “slickness” off the sphere, and while he is doing that the other fellows are likely to be making hits and runs. In nearly every game played here this year the first inning was marked by just such performances.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the final opinion in the Ward suit

Date Saturday, April 5, 1890
Text

Short Stop and Lawyer John M. Ward's victory over the League was made complete March 31. Judge Lawrence, in the special term of the Supreme Court, granted the motion made by ex-Judge Howland, the Brotherhood's counsel, to dismiss the complaint in the suit brought by the Metropolitan Exhibition Company to restrain Ward from playing the the Brotherhood Club of Brooklyn this season.

The Judge evidently thought that the opinions of Judge Thayer, of Philadelphia, and Judge O'Brien, his associate upon the bench of the Supreme Court, were conclusive, for he handed down only a short opinion as follows:-- “As I am informed by counsel for the plaintiff that they do not intend to submit a brief in the case, and as I am of the opinion that the contract referred to in the complaint is one which a court of equity will not enforce, judgment will be granted dismissing the complaint with costs.”

The counsel for the National League evidently concluded that the law was against him and practically abandoned the case.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the formation of the Players League

Date Wednesday, January 22, 1890
Text

[from an interview of Ward] It has been frequently claimed that the idea of a Players' League originated and was fomulated on our trip around the world. As a matter of fact the idea never occurred to us there. What originally set the ball rolling that was was the attempt of the magnates to classify the players. This classification list provided for five classes of salaries. Class A to receive $2500, class B $2250, class C $2000, class D $1750 and class E $1500. The first intimation was from some American newspapers we received at Cairo, Egypt. Even then we did not thoroughly understand the scope of the proposed classification until we reached Naples, where letters and additional papers explained the scheme more fully. Of course, we talked over what action had best to taken.

The trouble culminated last June, when we asked the League to meet us and discuss an obnoxious rule. Their reply was that it was not of sufficient importance to engage the attention of the League in mid-summer, although they had classified our men and reduced salaries. We knew if the hearing was postponed until the fall it would go over until the winter, when they would practically has us at their mercy, and we would not have time to organize in time for the season. We determined to act at one. As a matter of fact, he wad all we could do to prevent a general strike of the players and a meeting was actually held on July 2 and a ballot taken whether the season should be played out or not.

It required all the persuasion which the more conservative element could bring to bear to prevent a large body of the men from refusing to play the season out. Such a course would have been fatal, as it would have alienated the public sympathy. We, therefore, played the season out, but lost no time in perfecting the plans for our new organization.

Committees were appointed to secure capital in the different cities. Pfeffer had charge of this branch in Chicago, Sanders in Philadelphia and myself in New York. We have been successful beyond our most sanguine expectations. We organized with one hundred and twenty-five players. Of this number about twenty-five deserted us.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the growth of newspaper baseball departments

Date Saturday, June 14, 1890
Text

[from the Boston correspondent] Some idea of the growth of the base ball department in the Boston papers can be drawn from the difference in the size of the base ball force of the Globe to-day, and in '84, the last year in which we had two teams here throughout the season. Then it was the Boston League team and League Reserves, and the Boston Unions. That year one man handled the entire base ball department of the Glove. Since then it has grown so much, and has become so great a feature in the papers that at present, with both teams away, there are four men in the department besides Tim Murnane, who is its editor.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the history of the Brooklyn and Cincinnati jump

Date Wednesday, February 26, 1890
Text

editorial matter] The interesting disclosures made during the attempted deal [to transfer Indianapolis players to New York], by President Brush, shed some light upon the inside history of the admission of Brooklyn and Cincinnati, and prove conclusively how correctly The Sporting Life sized up the situation from the day of the League meeting up to the present moment, and how impartial and just was the stand this paper took despite the freely expressed displeasure of the magnates and their shouters. Mr. Brush's admission corroborates the previous belief that the admission of Brooklyn and Cincinnati, so far from being a voluntary act of kindness to the two clubs which were alleged to be clamoring for admission in order to escape from the persecution of their fellow Association clubs, was really a preconcerted and well-defined movement to strengthen the League at the expense of the American Association, and if necessary of fellow League clubs. The strenuous objection of some of the League clubs to the proposed absorption of the two strongest clubs of a friendly organization and the measures taken to placate the internal opposition, even at the expense of guarantees to perpetuate a ten-club circuit, prove conclusively that the League scheme was to strengthen itself at any and all cost in utter disregard of everything but the most entirely selfish consideration.

The underlying object of the admission of the two Association cities was the formation of one great monopolistic League, and at that time the League magnates thought they saw the way clear for the accomplishment of a long-cherished purpose. The Players' League had failed to effect a permanent organization, the American Association was in the throes of a bitter factional fight, and so the League magnates thought they had both on the run, and calmly proceeded to appropriate the two strongest clubs of the Association. The calculation was that the Players' League movement would quickly fall to pieces right after the Indianapolis desertions, under the weight of discouragement and the outlined assaults of League money and bluff; that for Brooklyn and Cincinnati a ten-club circuit could be made, since if two of the clubs would not be frozen out, enough players would be available when the Brotherhood movement collapsed to equalize all the teams with material equal to that acquired by the accession of the two Association clubs; and that with the Brotherhood movement dead and the Association bereft of its two strongest and richest clubs, the latter would either go to pieces or fall to a minor league state—it did not matter which—and then the League would have been left supreme in base ball, without a rival and monarch of all it surveyed.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the history of the conflicting schedules

Date Saturday, December 13, 1890
Text

[from Brunell's column] Had it not been for a speech of vehemence and military flavor by Colonel McAlpin last spring the schedule would have been changed and a list of playing dates with less than a total of eight conflicts would have been adopted. Last April, while Al Johnson and I were at St. Louis witnessing the opening games between the Cleveland an Chicago teams fresh from their Southern practice tour, a special meeting was called for the avowed purpose of considering a change of schedule. John and I left St. Louis, and on the way down we discussed schedule changes. Finally, we got to manufacturing a new list of playing dates, and I finished and took into the New York meeting a schedule with but seven conflicts.

...Chicago instructed me to vote against change, cut Cleveland, Pittsburg, Buffalo and Philadelphia leaned towards a change, and Brooklyn could have been got into line. But Col. McAlpin's “death or glory” speech turned the tide and the schedule, with its average of 65 conflicts, stood. And the colonel's crowd with its death or glory principles didn't stand...

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the history of the negotiations with the PL Cleveland Club

Date Saturday, November 29, 1890
Text

[See TSL 901129 p. 3 for a detailed account of Robison's versions of the negotiations with Al Johnson to shut down the Cleveland PL Club.]

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the infield fly rule

Date Wednesday, April 2, 1890
Text

[reviewing the PL rules] Section 9 of new Rule 4, which defines how batsmen are out, is an innovation and reads as follows:-- “If, where there is a base-runner on the first base and less than two players on the side at bat have been put out in the inning then being played, the batsman makes a fair hit so that the ball falls within the infield and the ball touches any fielder, whether held by him or not, before it touches the ground.” This new section is to prevent the “juggle” double play so prevalent of late, and which has not only exasperated audiences, but has made trouble for umpires. The Sporting Life April 2, 1890

[reporting the PL special meeting of 4/2/1890] [proceedings of the meeting with the PL umpires] Particular attention is to be paid to the prevention of double plays by th4e willful dropping of fly balls. Any such ball which simply touches the fielder's hands is sufficient to put the batsman out. The Sporting Life April.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the influence of wives on player jumps

Date Wednesday, March 12, 1890
Text

[from Ella Black's column] What an amount the women have had to do with the stand taken by many of the players in this fight. It seems to have been a fact that when any of their wives took an interest in the sport, the men always went according to the wishes of their wives. It was through their wives that Clarkson and Bennett signed with the old body, and it was to please his wife that Billy Sunday resigned from the Brotherhood. Last summer Sunday was one of the most enthusiastic members of the Players' League and did a great deal towards interesting the present local backers in the scheme. His wife, though, had more faith in the old body, and it was her entreaties that caused him to return to it. It was the reverse in the case of “Buck” Ewing. His wife was all for the Players' League.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the injunction denial encourages PL signings; returning players

Date Wednesday, February 5, 1890
Text

One effect of Judge O'Brien's decision is the change of heart in short stop e. J. McKean, who recently jumped his Brotherhood contract to join the National League. He decided on Thursday last to stick to his first contract and so notified Al Johnson. He also sent a long telegram to Treasurer Howe in New York informing him of his intention. The Sporting Life February 5, 1890

[quoting Frank Brunell] Under no circumstances will any man who has once signed a contract with the Players' League and then flopped over to the old League be taken back. Yes, there will be one man only—E. J. McKean, of Cleveland. He went to Al Johnson in a manly way, said he had committed an error, and was willing to refund to the old League all the advance money that was paid him. But no man like Delehanty, who, since the injunction against Ward was refused,has been running around the City of Cleveland and almost praying to be taken back, stating that he would play for a less sum than the Players' League asked him to, will ever be allowed to play in the organization with my consent. The Sporting Life February 12, 1889

[editorial matter] The effect of Judge O'Brien's decision upon the Players' League has been all that was expected and predicted. There has not been a single desertion since the decision was announced, and the confidence of the players, the backers and the public in the future of the Players' League has been heightened to a most remarkable degree. In every direction has the Players' League been strengthened. The Sporting Life February 12, 1890

The question is being considered now by the Players' League whether to receive back such of the deserters as have expressed regret for their acts and signified their willingness to return to their allegiance to the Brotherhood. There are just ten such repentant men now. The sentiment against taking ehse men back is strong and growing stronger daily. The Sporting Life February 19, 1890

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the mitt reduces the number of catchers on the roster

Date Saturday, September 13, 1890
Text

In one respect the big glove is an enemy to catchers. It saves them from being battered to pieces, but on the other hand it reduces the number of backstops, as with this glove two catchers are all that any club need carry.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the new League standard contract

Date Saturday, October 11, 1890
Text

The new contract was drawn up by Col. John I. Rogers, at the request of the League. He made the draft early in the season, and copies were sent to Zach Phelps, of the American Association; to L. C. Krauthoff, of the Western Association; to ex-President A. G. Mills, and to several other distinguished lawyers, including Frederick Ullman, of Chicago. All except Mr. Phelps responded with very valuable suggestions, which were incorporated into the contract.

The most important changes may be summarized as follows:-- The reserve of the eighteenth paragraph is entirely stricken out, the paragraph giving the club, in clear, definite phraseology, the option to renew the contract for whatever number of years may be mutually agreed upon. The seventeenth paragraph containing the ten-days' clause is materially altered to the advantage of the player. After inserting a reason for the notice namely:-- “A lack of skill or playing ability below the standard requisite in a National League Club,” it limits the serving of the notice to the period of the playing season. A player under this form cannot be released between seasons without his consent. Another change in favor of the player is his right to appeal to the League directors against club fines and penalties. The clauses against dissipation and immorality are strengthened. [The text of the contract follows.]

While the reserve rule is no longer referred to in the contract, it does not follow that it will be stricken out of the National Agreement. In all probability it or its equivalent will always be, as heretofore, preserved as a necessity for the perpetuation of the game.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the old Nationals recruited George Fox with a civil service job

Date Sunday, February 2, 1890
Text

[from the Washington correspondent] [from an interview of Senator Gorman] “That reminds me of how the Nationals on one occasion obtained a player who afterward proved to be one of the star men. Our nine had gone to Georgetown college to play a game, and before the contest began our attention was attracted by a tall, slim young fellow who was batting the ball up for the boys and dring the ball over the fence at the southern end of the inclosure. Upon inquiry we ascertained that the heavy batter was George Fox, and that he had just graduated and was preparing to go to his home in New York. He was questioned and urged to remain in Washington, the ample inducement offered him being a position in a Government department, for in those days there was no such thing as civil service reform, and the majority of our members were men who held offici9al positions, and wielded a great deal of influence. Our arguments proved too potent for Fox, and he consented to remain with us, and we never regretted our bargain. Some of this long drives to the willows on the White House grounds will live in the memory of the old-timers who witnessed them.” The Philadelphia Sunday Item February 2, 1890

Source The Philadelphia Sunday Item
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the old Nationals recruited George Fox with a civil service job 2

Date Sunday, February 2, 1890
Text

[from the Washington correspondent] [from an interview of Senator Gorman] “That reminds me of how the Nationals on one occasion obtained a player who afterward proved to be one of the star men. Our nine had gone to Georgetown college to play a game, and before the contest began our attention was attracted by a tall, slim young fellow who was batting the ball up for the boys and dring the ball over the fence at the southern end of the inclosure. Upon inquiry we ascertained that the heavy batter was George Fox, and that he had just graduated and was preparing to go to his home in New York. He was questioned and urged to remain in Washington, the ample inducement offered him being a position in a Government department, for in those days there was no such thing as civil service reform, and the majority of our members were men who held offici9al positions, and wielded a great deal of influence. Our arguments proved too potent for Fox, and he consented to remain with us, and we never regretted our bargain. Some of this long drives to the willows on the White House grounds will live in the memory of the old-timers who witnessed them.

Source The Philadelphia Sunday Item
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the outcome of the Lehane case

Date Friday, March 14, 1890
Text

[the statement from Rogers] It was in evidence that the Buffalo Club, through their agent, Mr. Robert Laidley, authorized Mr. Buckenberger of the Buffalo Club [sic: should be Columbus Club] on Jan. 23, 1889, to negotiate with Mr. Lehane, a player reserved by the said Buffalo Club. Mr. Buckenberger said he would pay in salary and release money a certain sum, and on Jan. 27 made a personal agreement with Lehane to play in Columbus under a regular Association contract, to be signed on or before Feb. 15, 1890, if legally authorized to contract with the Columbus Club at that date. No release was given to Lehane by the buffalo Club until Feb. 4, 1890, after which date Lehane refused to comply with his personal agreement, and subsequently signed a regular contract with the New York Club.

The Board held that under their former precedents the contract of Jan. 27 would be invalid because it preceded instead of following the release of Feb. 4, but outside of such precedents there was a moral obligation upon Lehane to have complied with his personal agreement and to have signed a regular contract, and if Mr. Day would waive claim to Lehane the Board would prefer to enforce such obligation as far as it was in their power to do by recognizing the subsequent release of Feb. 4, 1890, as a ratification of the authority of Jan. 23, to negotiate, and the personal contract of Jan. 27. Mr. Day, therefore, declare that in view of the Board's decision affirming his position under base ball rules, he would waive all further claims on the player.

Source New York Sun
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the party line on the formation of the National League

Date Saturday, September 20, 1890
Text

[from Chadwick's column] Not since the great secession movement in the ranks of the professional fraternity in 1876, when the capitalist magnates of the old National Association seceded from that organization and set up for themselves under the batter of the National League of Professional Clubs, and left the National Association of Professional Players to die out, under its load of crookedness and revolving...

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the preliminary injunction against Ward is denied

Date Wednesday, February 5, 1890
Text

The injunction was denied and Ward scored a clean knock-down in the legal tilt with the League. In his opinion Judge O'Brien allowed that the word “reserve” held the player, as shown by his supplemental contract with the New York Base Ball Club, but maintained that the contract in its entirety was unequal in its conditions and could not be enforced in a court of equity. He recommended a speedy trial in order that the ends of justice might be served, but in a quiet and unmistakable way explained to the plaintiff that he had not a chance in a thousand to win his suit. The very inequity of the alleged contract was enough to prevent its enforcement, allowing that all claims made by the plaintiff were correct. [The entire opinion follows.]

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the price of the Indianapolis Club sale; status of the Cincinnati franchise

Date Saturday, November 15, 1890
Text

[reporting the NL meeting of 11/12] The financial details of the Cincinnati and Indianapolis deals were then discussed. It will be recalled that last spring the National League were forced to buy the Indianapolis Club for $65,000. The players and the franchise and the players were what were purchased. John B. Day, of New York, hustled around and raised about one-half the money, and the eight National League clubs gave notes for the balance. These note were made proportionally on a suppositious attendance for 1890. Several exigencies arose which threw the attendance estimate out of gear, and it was this little matter which set the National League men in an uproar. The tangle was not straightened out when they adjourned, but an understanding was reached by which Mr. Brush will be given the National League franchise in Cincinnati (which Messrs. Stern & Sterne could not sell) in lieu of the notes which he holds. Mr. Brush will offer to consolidate with the Players' League syndicate on a 50 per cent. basis, and he will make the scheme work. Thus is furnished a picture of a National League man consolidating nothing with $40,000, and getting one-half of the money. … After the meeting it was stated that if a general consolidation can be agreed upon the dereliction of the Cincinnati Club will be dropped altogether. Should no deal be arranged the Cincinnati Club will be expelled and the franchise given to a new set of capitalists. There are two applications. One is from a syndicate of which John Kilgour, the millionaire railroad man, is a member, represented by John T. Brush, and the other a syndicate of which Harry Sterne is a member, represented by a written application sent to League magnate.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the rationale for an AA club in Brooklyn; expansion draft

Date Sunday, January 12, 1890
Text

Mr. Whitaker says that he thinks Brooklyn is a 25-cent town. With two clubs—League and Brotherhood—charging 50 cents each, he feels confident that the new organization will get the patronage. All the other clubs will give the new nine one or more players so as to place it on a level with the other teams in the organization. There have already been several applications for stock in the new club.

Source Philadelphia Times
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the reserve and minor league salaries

Date Saturday, December 20, 1890
Text

[editorial matter] The reserve rule, instead of proving a benefit to minor leagues was quite the reverse, as the hope of retaining and selling players led all clubs into assuming greater financial responsibilities than they could bear. Salaries with them were no object with the prospect of profitable sales in view.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the reserve clause as an option

Date Wednesday, January 15, 1890
Text

It is not generally thought among base ball experts that the National League club owners themselves ever regarded “reserve” as an option until soon after the players announced their intention of leaving the old League, Col. John I Rogers discovered that the word could possibly be construed to mean an agreement to renew the contract for another year. A clear idea of what reservation signified can be formed from an editorial written by Francis C. Richter in The Sporting Life of Jan. 30, 1889, months before the present controversy arose. Mr. Richter is an able exponent of base ball law, and in the conflict now being wages has taken a stand of neutrality. In the following editorial he had under consideration the case of Robert Wheelock, who was released by Lowell and signed by Detroit in 1888, a question having arisen over his release:

“As all base ball contracts expire at the close of a season no notice of release is required. Such notices would, in fact, be utterly superfluous. Managers and players have fulfilled their obligations to their clubs and prescribed, in their contracts, none of which can be for more than one season, and are free. Even reserved players are absolutely under no further obligations to their clubs, and the latter have, therefore, no further control of the men. Of course, such reserved player cannot sign elsewhere. But that is not because they have not the right, but because reserve is simply an agreement between the clubs not to employ each other's players, thus shutting the latter off from all clubs but the one reserving them.”

There is abundant evidence to show that the opinion held by Mr. Richter was the one generally shared by base ball managers as well as players, and this evidence will be presented to Judge O'Brien by the defendant's lawyers., quoting the New York World

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the story about luring Harry Decker with a roll of cash

Date Saturday, September 13, 1890
Text

It is a matter of unusual congratulation that during this fight there have been no attempts to coax players to jump their contracts. That was a prominent feature of the Union battles in '84, and Tom Loftus told a great war story the other afternoon. It was on Harry Decker. He was catching in Indianapolis then, and Ted Sullivan wanted him for the Kansas Citys. Ted and Peek-a-boo Veach were on the stand one day, just back of the catcher, and, in the second or third inning, Veach held up a big role of one dollar bills. “oh, Deck!” he called, “look here.” When Decker's eyes sighted the wad and the nod he was wild to get out, and fable says he stuck out his finger and got hut in the sixth inning, so he could hurry up and join Ted and Peek-a-boo. He jumped, too!

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the ten-team circuit

Date Wednesday, March 5, 1890
Text

[from Tim Murnane's column] There is little doubt but that Hewitt and Brush would have been relegated to obscurity long ago in this fight but for their forethought. At the first League meting, when Brooklyn and Cincinnati were knocking for admittance, Hewitt and Brush held the winning cards. Cleveland and Pittsburg were in nearly the same boat. These four cities figured out that by letting these two outsiders in it would mean the bouncing of them later on. So before they would agree to admit them they had an agreement drawn up whereby the League cannot even vote them out.

Walter Hewitt can now pick up an amateur team and hold his franchise in the League, and the strong clubs must pay him his price or stand the racket. Brush, however, has a good team and feels sure of making some money. I am sure this winter's advertisement has stirred up the Hoosiers in such a way that the crowds at the games in that city would be much larger than ever. The Sporting Life March 5, 1890 [N.B. This agreement does not appear in the League minutes.]

[from W. I. Harris's column] Tim Murnane, my Boston colleague, has asserted that when Cincinnati and Brooklyn were admitted an agreement was made that Indianapolis and Washington should not be disturbed. I have it on the authority of John B. Day and Charles H. Byrne that no agreement of that kind, either written or verbal, was ever made. Tim says, in his last letter, that Mr. Hewitt gave him the information in New York and that Mr. Soden confirmed it. There's some romancing somewhere. I'll take an oath that Messrs. Day and Byrne told me there was no agreement made, and I presume Murnane will do the same as to his informants. The Sporting Life March 26, 1890

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the triumvirs snubbed the Boston Globe

Date Saturday, July 26, 1890
Text

Two years ago Col. Taylor, of the Globe, gave the Boston Club a dinner. The triumvirate was invited and sent neither thanks nor regrets. That was not forgotten, gentlemen, and won't be. The next year the players were invited to another dinner, but not the mighty, thankless, incomparable three. See?

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the two Polo Grounds

Date Saturday, November 22, 1890
Text

[from a dispatch by Murnane to the Boston Globe] The New York Club will be in big luck to come out even for the next five years. To start they have two expensive ball parks on their hands. John .B. Day used poor judgment when he leased their grounds. With a year to run he went to the owners of the property and asked for a renewal of the lease for five years at the rend he was paying-- $3000 per year. The Players' League had grounds at the next block three times as large from the same landlord for $5000, with a privilege of renewing it. When Mr. Day called on Mr. Coogan, the owner, he was informed that he had promised the Players' League people that he would not renew the League's lease, but then, Mr. Day, you might come to my figures and have a renewal. Mr. Day was ready to do most anything at the time, and signed a bond to put up $8000 a year rent for the next five years, and there you are!

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

the value of privileges

Date Saturday, October 11, 1890
Text

The [Cincinnati] club receives from its score card and other privileges about $2000.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

third base coach deeking the fielder 2

Date Saturday, August 23, 1890
Text

Glasscock has a trick of running toward the home plate when a man is on third and a ball is hit to the field. The idea is to confuse the fielder and make him throw home with the idea of retiring what he supposes is the base-runner. Then the man on first can easily get to second on the throw in.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

third base coach deeking the fielders

Date Saturday, May 24, 1890
Text

With a man on third the infield was playing up close. One of the Cleveland coachers ran in from third on a hit to short. Thinking it was the Cleveland player going home the ball was sent to the plate. As the batter got safely to first there was no one out. As there was no penalty for an act of this kind Umpire Knight made the Cleveland coachers stay back at the bench during the rest of the game. When Secretary Brunell heard of it he sent word to all umpires that hereafter when anything like this occurred to give the runner out.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

Toledo to fight expulsion from the AA

Date Saturday, November 29, 1890
Text

The club officials state that the reason that Toledo feels secure is because her existence does not depend on any friendship the Association may or may not have for Toledo, but depends solely on a legal right that the Association cannot override. The other clubs can secede; they can make all the gigantic bluffs they please, but the stubborn fact stares them in the face that if they secede the name “American Association” will wave around the Toledo Club. … Should the magnates attempt to freeze Toledo out of the American Association a petition will be filed in the United States Court, asking that the Association be restrained from forcing the Toledo Club out. This is the latest phase of the local base ball situation.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

Tommy Tucker signs four contracts

Date Wednesday, January 22, 1890
Text

In explaining the Tucker deal Manager Barnie said he disposed of him because he positively refused to play again in Brooklyn, contract or no contract, and further gives this version of the entire transaction, endeavoring to make Tucker out as less venal than vacillating:

“The first contract signed by Tuycker was with the Brooklyn Brotherhood Club. It was actually signed on Sunday, Nov. 17, 1889, but was dated Nov. 18 (Monday). Tucker was to receive $300 as advance money. When he received this, however, it was in the form of a note payable in six months. Tucker saw that the $300 was in the nature of a loan, and refused to sign the note. A few days after this transaction he met Mr. Barnie. Being disgusted at the failure of the Brotherhood people to send him $300 advance money, but sending him a six months' note instead, Tucker signed an agreement or contract to play with the Baltimore Club for the season of 1890, at a salary of $3250, and also agreeing to be transferred to any National League city to which the Baltimore Club might sell his release. Subsequently, Tucker went to New York at the time of the Players' League meeting. Immediately he was surrounded by the Brotherhood players, to whom he said he had signed with the Baltimore Club, and an avalanche of entreaty was hurled at him to renew his contract with the Players' League. Finally Tucker yielded to the persuasions of the players and signed a second contract with a representative of the Brooklyn Club, receiving $500 advance money. Mr. Barnie got after him again and persuaded him to sign with the Boston Club at a salary said to be about $4000.”

The correct facts are that Tucker did sign his first contract with the Brooklyn Club on a Sunday, the contract being dated a day ahead, which is held by the Brooklyn Club's counsel to be a legal contract. He receive $300 for which he was asked to give a note, simply because the Brooklyn Club was not then incorporated, and one of the Brooklyn Club directors advanced the money from his own funds, simply taking the note as acknowledgment of the debt. Then Barnie got at Tucker and worked so upon his mercurial nature that he finally signed an agreement to play with the Baltimore Club for $3250, or to be transferred to any League club by the Baltimore Club. This agreement was only signed by Tucker, no consideration of any kind was given or responsibility assumed by Barnie, and was practically simply in the nature of a memorandum. Ward convinced Tucker of this, and the latter then expressed a willingness to return to the Brooklyn Club providing his salary was made equal to that Barnie offered. After some consideration the Brooklyn Club concluded to give Tucker what he wanted in order to satisfy him, and this is why a new contract for the larger salary was made out. He also received $200 more advance money, making $500 in all. When he signed the contract Tucker was brimful of joy, expressed himself well pleased, and publicly stated before he left for Holyoke that he “was perfectly satisfied, and that $5000 could not tempt him to desert the Brooklyn Club.” How sincere he was subsequent events show. [He played 1890 for the Boston League Club]

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

Traditional Easter Ballplaying . . . Where Fast Day Play was Born?

Date Saturday, April 5, 1890
Text

 

EASTER LEGENDS: The Spring-Tide Festival of All Ages

 

Most of the customs and traditions connected with this festival are an inheritance from our heather ancestors.

[Comments given on ancient Egyptian and Persian spring rituals, and on 19C egg-based European Easter rites]

In some sections (of England) the town corporation joined with great dignity with others in a game of ball on Easter Monday.  This has survived the the Fast Day games, but in some villages twelve old women were always chosen for the yearly game. 

 

 

 

 

 

Source Boston Transcript, April 5, 1890 (unsigned)
Comment

Bruce Allardice notes that "town corporation" was a British term for what we would call a city council. 

Query

Can we discover more details on the tradition of mature women being central to early Easter ballplaying festivities?

 

 

Submitted by Joanne Hulbert

training technique

Date Sunday, January 26, 1890
Text

[from an interview of Jim Keenan] ...I am opposed to gymnasium practice. I believe work of that kind does more harm than good. The muscles used on the ball field are not brought into play in a gymnasium. Why, you can train hard for two months in a gym and then play a game of ball and you will be just as sore after the game as if you had not trained a moment. Hand-ball is the right sort of training. In that game you are continually stooping, jumping to one side, running, throwing, in fact using every muscle and performing every movement used in a game of ball. If I could have secured a place in the West End, I would have put up a fine hand ball court. The man that owned it wanted too much rent and I had to give it up.

Source Cincinnati Enquirer
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

treating the bat with natural gas

Date Saturday, May 3, 1890
Text

A natural gas soaked bat is the latest. Veach, of the Cleveland team, recently bought a new bat and was advised the burn the varnish off it before a natural gas fire. He did so. The parafinne in the flame seasoned the stick well, and in consequence Veach is cracking out the ball.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

types of football

Date Saturday, November 15, 1890
Text

Now there are two distinct games of foot ball, namely, the Association and the Rugby. The former is foot ball pure and simple, the ball being always propelled by the foot, and never held in the hands except when caught on the fly. It is the game usually played in Scotland, and also very largely in England. In this country it is principally confined to English and Scotch residents, who largely compose such clubs as the Thistles and Longfellows. In the Rugby game the ball is usually advanced by being carried in the arms of the player, and is only kicked under necessity, or when by nature of the game it seems advisable to do so. It is the game best known in this country, and is the one played under intercollegiate rules. It has, however, undergone many changes since it was introduced here, and has been so improved that it is now the most scientific and strategic game played. Indeed, foot ball is remarkable from this fact, for it was evolved from one of the crudest and most primitive of games, originally consisting of two mobs of men and boys trying to kick a ball in opposite directions.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

umpire hand signals

Date Saturday, September 13, 1890
Text

During the Rochester-St. Louis game of Sept. 9 Umpire Emslie suddenly lost his voice, and as he couldn't speak above a whisper, catcher McGuire, who was in uniform as extra man, had to call out decisions for Emslie. Emslie would wave his left hand and McGuire would call a ball, while a wave of the right hand meant a strike. Sometimes Mac misunderstood the signals and would call a ball when Emslie meant a strike. This usually occurred when a Rochester man was at bat. Then the umpire would shake his head vigorously and the decision would be reversed. On the whole the pantomime was very amusing.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

umpire out signal

Date Friday, August 22, 1890
Text

[Tiger of New York vs. Peekskill 8/21/1890] [John L. Sullivan the stunt umpire] He seemed to be well up in the game, and when a man was put out in running to first base Sullivan moved his thumb over his shoulder to indicate that the man should get off the base. In not a single instance did any of the players attempt to question Umpire Sullivan's decision. New York World August 22, 1890

an English contract case

A case of very great interest to foot ball players in England and to ball players in America was decided yesterday in the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice. … Mr. Justice North,... dismissed the motion, with costs. He said there was no case that he knew of or had ever heard of which would be an authority for the Court restraining the defendant from playing for another club and the other defendants from employing him. He could not find that it would make the slightest difference (in a pecuniary point of view) to the persons who were suing whether Campbell played or did not play for them, and he should decline to make such an order as he was asked to make. The Sporting Life August 23, 1890

Source New York World
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

umpire out signal 2

Date Saturday, August 23, 1890
Text

John L. Sullivan umpired a game at Iona Island last Thursday, between the Peekskills and the Tigers, of New York. He gave his decision on balls and strikes in loud and impressive tones, and when a man was thrown out at first John ordered him to the bench, not orally, but by a significant jerk of the thumb over the right shoulder. A large crowd cheered the champion for his great work.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

umpire stealing signs

Date Sunday, February 23, 1890
Text

[from an interview of umpire George Barnum] “Have you any system that you follow while umpiring that helps you?”

“Yes: I endeavor to ascertain the signs used by the batter. This is a big aid. I can then tell what kind of a ball to expect, and can locate myself so as to be in the best possible position to judge it.

Source Cincinnati Enquirer
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

umpire uniforms 3

Date Saturday, April 5, 1890
Text

[editorial matter] It is pleasing to observe that in all leagues, both big and little, the order has now gone forth that all umpires must be uniformed. In the past not enough attention was paid to this matter in minor leagues and many umpire looked like tramps so far as attire was concerned. A neat uniform adds distinction to the position and impresses the public favorably, and for this reason the umpires should be uniformed just as are the teams.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

umpire uniforms 4

Date Sunday, April 27, 1890
Text

Umpire Gaffney does not like the new umpires' uniforms. He was in love with his beautiful wine-color suit, and, indeed,he had good reason to be. That was a thing of beauty and a joy forever, and, to tell the truth, “Gaff” does not umpire as well in his new suit. He ought to be accorded special permission to make a change.

Source Philadelphia Times
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

University of Virginia plays a PL club

Date Sunday, March 30, 1890
Text

J. C. Morse, of the Boston Herald, telegraphs as follows from Charlottesville, Va. “The University of Virginia has dared to show its contempt for the clubs under the protection of the National agreement by refusing to obey its mandate not to play Brotherhood clubs, and to-day it met the Boston ball club. One of the officers of the College Club said that he did not recognize any right except that of the faculty to dictate what clubs hsould be met on the diamond, and this opinion was shared by his college. Certain clubs had written to the University threatening to cancel dates if they played with the Brotherhood nine, and they laughed at such threats, informing the senders that they could do as they pleased about the matter.

Source The Sunday Item Philadelphia
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

unpaid PL salaries

Date Saturday, November 22, 1890
Text

It has developed that some of the players of the New York Players' league Club have not been paid since Sept. 1 and are vainly seeking a settlement with the club. Richardson, O'Rourke, Whitney, Keefe and Shannon are the ones yet unpaid. They have used every endeavor together their salaries since Sept. 1, but have failed. Buck Ewing did not receive his salary until last week. He also received Vaughn's at the same time. Gore, O'Day, Connor and Johnston were lucky. They got in out of the wet all right. The Sporting Life November 22, 1890

[Mark] Baldwin did not hesitate to say that the Chicago Club officials were indebted to the players for salaries to the extent of $7000 or $9000. None of the players, he continued, had any hopes of getting it, as under the contract they signed their wages were to come from the gate receipts. … Comiskey was the heaviest loser of the lot, the officials owing him $1900 at the close of the season, and which they told him they would never pay. The Sporting Life November 22, 1890

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

usage of 'crank'

Date Sunday, February 16, 1890
Text

[from a letter by Mutrie] I am in constant receipt of letters from all over the country and from all sorts and condition of men, and women, too, for that matter, asking all kinds of questions concerning the game. Some of these are cranks, pure and simple; some are persons who seem to write just for the fun of the thing. On the other hand, many more are from men who are interested in base ball from love of the game—a game which I maintain is unequaled in its way.

Source Philadelphia Times
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

value of the minor league club

Date Saturday, October 11, 1890
Text

H. L. Hach and A. H. Griffin on Saturday afternoon purchased a two-thirds interest in the Minneapolis Western Association team for $10,400. Mr. Hach already owned on-third of the stopck, so he and Griffin are sole owners of the team. Mr. Griffin was formerly chief clerk in the sporting goods house of S. G. Morton & Co., and, while new in the business, is an amateur athlete of prominence and a good business man. Sam. G. Morton and Fred Glade, the retiring stockholders, have secured an option on the St. Paul franchise from J. M. Pottgieser, its present owner. The price at which the team is held is $10,000. If the St. Paul Street Railway Company will put in quick electrical or cable service from St. Paul to the West Side Park the offer will probably be accepted and the St. Paul grounds enlarged or good grounds may be secured on the east side of the river.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

Von der Ahe denies he applied to the Players League

Date Wednesday, January 1, 1890
Text

[from Joe Pritchard's column][from an interview of Von der Ahe] “St. Louis did not apply for admission to the Brotherhood ranks,” said Mr. Von der Ahe. “I went to New York simply to see what the outlook was, and I am well satisfied with my trip. I learned a great deal about the Brotherhood while I was in Gotham. It looks to me as if there were too many bosses at times, while at other times there were no bosses at all, and then the players are easily frightened and they can stand but very few more desertions before there will be a general stampede. I looked the ground over carefully and for the life of me I don't see where the new organization is going to make any money.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

Von der Ahe on Comiskey and team-building

Date Tuesday, January 28, 1890
Text

[from an interview of Von der Ahe] Ball players are an ungrateful lot. Take this man Comiskey’s case, for instance. I payed him $5,000 a year for three years, and have made him presents besides. To be sure he is a good captain, but I made him what he is and gave him reputation and fortune. It is a fact that Comiskey never signed but one man for the St. Louis Club. He never knew what men were to be on the team until I signed them. Comiskey has been given too much credit. Now, see what he will do in Chicago and then watch St. Louis without him. As heretofore, I expect to have a winning club, one that will stand right up to the Association leaders.

Source Philadelphia Evening Item
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

Wagner on the negotiations; Ewing as intermediary; the situation

Date Saturday, November 22, 1890
Text

[from an interview of PL Philadelphia Club President Wagner] It is an undeniable fact that only a month ago the Players' league was the most powerful base ball organization that has ever existed. When we captured the Cincinnati Club we arranged the best circuit that any association ever had, and, with the fifteen players we secured through this deal, we had the material on hand from which to organize the eight strongest and most evenly balanced teams that were ever entered into a race for a base ball championship. On the other hand, this deal left the League with only seven clubs, and three of these—Pittsburg, Cleveland and New York—were practically dead. Everything was progressing nicely until the treachery of the New York Club was discovered, and since then everything has been going wrong for us.

Through the efforts of Ewing the two New York clubs were brought together some time ago to talk compromise. Ewing's plea was that John B. Day was his friend, and he did not want to see the latter ruined financially. No sooner did Messrs. Talcott and Day meet before the question of compromise was brought up for discussion, and both agreed to use their influence to bring about a cessation of hostilities for the sake of the game. This was the start of the movement for a compromise, and, thinking the National League men were sincere, we had no objection in meeting them to adjust matters. A committee of our League met their committee to arrange a compromise, and you what has been accomplished in this direction.

Our mistake was in having any negotiations whatever with the National League people. We were sincere for a compromise which we believed would be arranged on this basis:--To enter into an agreement to respect each other's contracts, which would keep expenses down; avoid conflicting dates in the future, which would mean a large increase in receipts for both; exchange games with each other in the fall and spring, etc.

The National League never had any intention of compromising, as we have since discovered, but what they were after was to get us into a committee room, outgeneral us in trickery, or, as they call it, diplomacy, create strife and distrust in our own ranks, induce one or more of our clubs to consolidate with them on advantageous terms, and then disrupt our organization. In this they have succeeded pretty well, but the end has not yet been reached. Had we never recognized the enemy we would to-day be in a position to have a war-dance on the National League's corpse.

It is only human to err, and err we did in entertaining any proposition from the magnates to enter into a compromise with them. Still had our clubs all been faithful no harm could have come from our people meeting them in a conference to talk compromise. But the New York people, anxious to quit for social and personal reasons, rushed into a scheme to sell out to their rivals, and this brought about distrust in our own ranks, and is the trouble we are now contending with. Had our New York colleagues done the square thing by us they would have come to us, stated their case and given us a chance to buy them out. This we would have done, and all would be now well. But their action in going to the opposition, offering their interest in the New York Club for half which they will sell it to us for, created distrust in our ranks, disgusted a number o our financial men and actually drove the Pittsburg people into consolidating with the National League Club in that city. It was a case of 'throw down,' and the Pittsburg peole were simply scared into doing what they did in order to protect their invested capital.

However, as I said before, surface indications are ofttimes misleading. The Players' League is still intact and likely to remain so. Boston, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Chicago and Cincinnati are solid as a rock and will stick to the Players' League. Wendell Goodwin has sold out his interest in the Brooklyn Club to John Wallace, a wealthy stock broker and real estate man, who is an enthusiastic Players' League man, and that club will never desert us now. The Chicago Club is all right, and Mr. Addison has not sold out to Mr. Spalding, as reported, nor will he do so. The Philadelphia, Boston, Cleveland and Brooklyn clubs own a controlling interest in the Cincinnati Club and they will see to it that the club will remain in the Players' League. As to New York and Pittsburg, we can hold those clubs if we choose to do so. The agreement they signed for ten years is legal, and pronounced binding by leading lawyers to whom it was submitted for examination.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

Ward and Spalding meet

Date Saturday, December 20, 1890
Text

[reporting an informal meeting between Ward and Spalding 12/13] Spalding-- “Can you offer any suggestion as to the best way to clear up things?”

Ward-- “I should say that settling up the business end of the muddle would be the most important just now. And in doing that you must be very careful how you handle the public. While apparently it is disinterested you will find they are watching with a jealous eye to see that all the arrangements are fair and above board. The game of base ball would amount to very little when stripped of its sentimental features. As a commercial business the game would be a big failure. The patrons of the Players' League must be satisfied or you will have to depend on a new generation for the support of the game. You may replace myself or any of the players at short notice, but you can't replace the patrons of the game so quickly.”

Spalding-- “What do you mean by doing away with objectionable features?”

Ward-- “First of all, you must do away with the sales system or the traffic in players. The 'reserve' rule was a good thing in its original form, when it held a team intact and prevented the wealthy clubs from prowling around among the weaker ones, but when it was used for the purpose of selling players and forcing them around at command, then it became an abuse that was against the best interest of the game.”

Spalding-- “Well, the sale system has been the salvation of the minor leagues. I remember when Des Moines was about $14,000 in the hole a few years ago, and how they held on to their club, paying up salaries, and finally got out whole by7 selling the Chicago Club Hutchinson for $2500 and other clubs three or four players.”

Mr. Spalding then went into the sale of Kelly and Clarkson to the Boston Club. The former was anxious to leave Chicago, and Clarkson went as a result of a big increase in salary by the Boston Club.

Ward-- “While it may have helped the minor leagues to carry on base ball by paying more money for talent than they could afford, I think the money paid out by the major leagues indirectly came out of the players in the major leagues, as their salaries were regulated according to the business done.”

After the meeting the mutual friend [who set it up] would not divulge the private talk between Messrs. Spalding and Ward, but it has been hinted that in case the American Association insists upon placing a club in Chicago Mr. Spalding would like to see Mr. Ward at its head, and there is a possibility that he may have asked Mr. Ward to interest himself in securing capital for the enterprise. It is certain, however, that no definite plans for the short stop's future in base ball were arranged at this meeting.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

Washington Club finances 3

Date Saturday, July 5, 1890
Text

When he took charge of the club upon the death of his father the total debt was $43,458.84, including salaries due players under contract for September and October, 1888, $10,058,84, or a monthly expenditure of $5000 for salaries alone. At this time the assets were $1551.85 cash, and a deposit with the National League, as a guaranty fund, of $3000. When the club left the League he received for certain players $8200 instead of $14,000, as stated at the time; $12,000 for the option on the lease of the grounds at Capital Park and $7000 for the franchise, instead of $20,000 as alleged, and these sums have been utilized by him in maintaining the present Atlantic Association organization at the Capital.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

Washington Club ownership; finances 2

Date Saturday, August 2, 1890
Text

Walter Hewitt has severed his connection with the Washington Club. Ted Sullivan, the manager, is now the chief owner. He says the team will play out the schedule. The Sporting Life August 2, 1890

“Magnate Sullivan,” as he must now be called, expects to gather around ample financial support to carry the team through the season, and he takes a very hopeful view of the situation. It is certain the attendance on the home ground has not been sufficient to pay expenses, and it is a problem to some of us how he is going to make both ends meet. The Sporting Life August 2, 1890

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

Washington applied to the Atlantic Association before the NL buyout

Date Monday, March 24, 1890
Text

The disposition of the Washington club was of but little consequence to that of the Hoosiers. It was well understood that MR. Hewitt could place himself where he was liable to make a little money this season, and that he had already made an application for membership in the Athletic [sic: should be Atlantic] Association. The result was the franchise of the Washington Club was bought by the League, but the players were retained.

Source Indianapolis Journal
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

Washington ready to sell out

Date Wednesday, February 12, 1890
Text

President Hewitt...advanced the idea that he is in the market if the League wants to purchase his franchise, and announced that he had not taken the necessary steps to complete his lease of the proposed new ball park in Washington. Considerable dissatisfaction exists in League circles over the attitude of President Hewitt on this question, and President Young said to-day that he was a loss to understand why he is acting and talking so.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

Wheeler Wikoff's day job

Date Saturday, December 6, 1890
Text

The new Association secretary, Wheeler Wikoff, at present holds a good position in the post office department, being chief registry clerk of the office in Columbus, O., which pays him a nice salary, with a tenure of at least three years more. Jimmy Williams stood in greater need of the secretaryship than Wikoff, being a man of family. However, luck, like kissing, goes by favor apparently.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

White brothers manufacturing brooms

Date Saturday, May 17, 1890
Text

Deacon Jim White and his brother William H. White, the ex-pitcher, are now manufacturing brooms and brushes at 419-421 Auburn avenue, Buffalo.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

who determines whether to play in rain

Date Saturday, April 5, 1890
Text

[reporting the PL special meeting of 4/2/1890] [proceedings of the meeting with the PL umpires] The captains of the teams are to be the sole judges whether the game shall be started in case or rain or doubtful weather, but when once started the umpires, as at present have the right to call the game or not.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

why Latham jumped

Date Saturday, August 9, 1890
Text

[quoting the Cleveland correspondent] Latham has been dissatisfied with the Chicago team for some weeks, claiming that he could not harmonize with the old Chicago players, who looked with disfavor upon his coaching, and let no opportunity pass to affront him on and off the field. There were some correspondence relative to his coming to Cleveland, although I understand that no definite terms had ever been agreed upon.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

why Rochester joined the AA

Date Wednesday, January 8, 1890
Text

The downfall of the International, if it does disband, can be attributed to Detroit. Had that club acted in a fairer and more open manner it is probable that Rochester would have reamined in the League, and had it remained Toledo would have followed suit. The latter club only joined the American Association because Rochester intended to, and because it realized that without Rochester the International would lose caste.

But Rochester is practically gone. Toledo is in the same position, and Detroit by its double-dealing tactics is to blame. The Rochester representatives at the League meeting desired to make Secretary white president-secretary, but agreed to vote for Mr. Mills, of Detroit, for president on condition that Rochester be made a member of the schedule committee. This offer was accepted and rm. Mills was made president. When he came to appoint the committee, however, he gave Rochester the go-by. But this is not alol, by any means. Detroit has been acting in a half-hearted manner throughout, and has caused a general feeling that it would drop the International speedily were an opportunity offered to enter the National League or Brotherhood League. Doubtful of the stability of Detroit and certain of being “roasted” on the International schedule, General Brinker decided to forestall Detroit and applied for admittance to the Association. Toledo did the same without delay, and Detroit now finds that it has over-reached itself. The Sporting Life January 8, 1890 [N.B. Mills of Detroit denied everything.]

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

why are ball grounds called parks?

Date Saturday, April 19, 1890
Text

Why base ball grounds should be called parks, when the word park is suggestive of trees, hills and valleys, shade and such things as would make base ball impossible, is one of the mysteries of the game.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

Yank Robinson's real estate investments; finances

Date Saturday, December 6, 1890
Text

Second baseman Robinson bought some property o Bacon street, St. Louis, several years ago, and it has greatly enhanced in value. He has been offered a big increase over the original purchase, but has steadfastly refused to sell. Recently he has added to his real estate list a couple of houses. One of these he bought from Doc Bushong, of the Brooklyns.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger

`how Latham was traded to the NL without going through waivers

Date Saturday, August 9, 1890
Text

It seems that the Cincinnati Club signed Latham with the connivance of Von der Ahe in defiance of the National Agreement waive rule, under which the American Association clubs would have had first chance to negotiate with Latham. Both the Athletic and Columbus clubs were willing and anxious to secure Latham, and neither had waived claim, nor, indeed, been asked to waive claim. Nevertheless, Cincinnati signed the man and is playing him in championship games.

It appears that during the Association meeting last winter, when the Brotherhood was after Association players, waivers were given by the various clubs upon such players as had signed, or were suspected of having signed, Brotherhood contracts, in order to make more easy the work of getting them back or transferring them to such National Agreement clubs as might enable them to just their Brotherhood contracts...

This is not the first time the American Association has suffered through an apparently legal perversion of the National Agreement, nor is it the first time its provisions have been openly violated. For instance, some of the League club are openly violating one of its most vital section by signing men to contracts for more than one year. It is sad, but true, that the much-vaunted National Agreement is not respected in the household of its friends and adherents and that its provisions are not lived up to even by those who have most to gain by its perpetuation—the club owners, for whose protection it was chiefly designed and steadily elaborated.

Source Sporting Life
Submitted by Richard Hershberger