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Old 02-19-2016, 10:18 AM   #1
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Baseball History, and (eventually) the rise of the Dodgers

I've had my solo league, which started in 1871, going for about a year now. I'm midway through 1884 and have 80 pages written, which were my requirements for myself before starting another dynasty thread. (Well, actually they were "get to the first season of the Dodgers" and "have at least 50 pages written." Check and check!) So I'm going to start posting it.

Basically, this started with pretty infrequent updates - once a season or so during the 1870s when things are a little hard to follow. As they settled down, the updates got more frequent too. As you'll (hopefully) see, a storyline began to develop with the rise of the National League, and I used that to give a fictional reason for a second league and the start of the "World's Series Tournament" in 1882. I started following a rookie player in 1882 as well, though I decided it would be more interesting in 1884 if I followed the start of the Brooklyn club - the only potential So Cal connection in 1884.

Anyway, here are the particulars: I am importing every player by hand and pretty meticulously editing them at the start, but after that the only further edits I do are if/when guys change from pitchers to position players or vice versa, which happened a lot in the 19th century. I decided not to bother with the Union Association (or Players' League or Federal League, if I get that far), and I handled this by just not importing those players unless/until they debuted in the NL or AA.

Players start on the teams they started with in real life. The financials are set to reserve clause rules, so teams can keep players indefinitely if they want. The one time I manually switch players is this: when a new team debuts, I give that new team the players it actually had in its first year of existence. Example: Brooklyn in 1884 had a bunch of lousy players and one pretty good one - Oscar Walker. I gave them all those guys - the scrubs and the one decent player. What they do with that going forward is up to them. When teams disband, I make their players free agents and anyone can sign them.

The writing style is pretty sparse - having to write well just to move on with the league feels like work to me (though doing all that manual importing doesn't). On the other hand, I get bored with stat dumps and don't want to read them after a while. Fourteen seasons into the league, I've settled into a combination - short writeups of happenings around the league, with a couple periodic stat updates. I hope this will be interesting. If anyone likes it, or even reads it, and wants to know more about it, let me know. Like most of us, I'm happy to talk forever about my solo leagues, and can find out basically anything you want to know about what happens in the league between 1871 and mid-June 1884, which is where things are as I write this. Anyway, on to the league reports.

Ooh, one other thing. I think I'm going to use a different font for the league reports as I post them. That feels right, somehow, and it also allows me to "step out of character" in the thread if people have anything to say about this.
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Old 02-19-2016, 10:18 AM   #2
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Chadwick Sports Newsletter

November 1871

Base Ball Year in Review

Many loyal readers will recall that this year brought the first season of open professional base ball, as the new National Association of Professional Baseball Players was established. Of course, the Cincinnati Red Stockings played as an openly professional club in 1869 and 1870, and those in the know say that many leading clubs around the nation have in truth been professional for several seasons. However, the previous method of professional baseball typically involved some out-of-town diamond star being invited to come to a new town to join the team, and meanwhile being offered a professional position by a local enthusiast that did not greatly tax the player’s abilities. Now with the advent of the professional game, there is no need for such subterfuge, and base ball men can simply be hired to ply their true trades.

The new National Association set its membership fee at the laughably low level of ten dollars, in order to encourage the nation’s leading clubs to join. In the end, nine clubs were willing to join the new organization to compete for national supremacy, and those clubs represented a mixture of organizational styles.

First of all, the now-defunct Cincinnati Red Stockings, run by the estimable Harry Wright, were invited to bring the club to Boston to represent the city as its professional club. Wright accepted the offer, and he and his brother George, together with Cal McVey and Charlie Gould, headed to New England. However, there was a competing offer from the Olympic club based in Washington, D.C. Olympic was a club organized in the style of the traditional gentlemen’s sporting clubs, and it was something of a surprise to see them offering contracts that were competitive with what the civic leaders of Boston made available. However, this offer lured many of Harry Wright’s better players from Cincinnati, including Doug Allison, Andy Leonard, Fred Waterman, and Asa Brainard. These two clubs would form the backbone of the new Association.

There were other leading clubs that came out of the gentlemen’s clubs and their traditions, most notably Mutual in New York City and Athletic in Philadelphia. Each of these clubs was recently the top amateur club in its city, though in both cases the clubs were likely amateur in name only. As the leading clubs from two of America’s leading cities, they were quick to join the new association, and mostly kept the same players they had been winning with for years.

The fifth club to join the Association was something of a hybrid, and probably was closer to the former Cincinnati club in its organization. The city of Chicago lacked the traditional athletic clubs of the eastern cities, but did have several strong western boys who could play the game of base ball as well as anyone. They supplemented this core by hiring many top eastern players, and the result was something much like Cincinnati had been – a large western city with aspirations that spent top dollar to lure established talent. If they had done so two years prior, when there were no other openly professional teams, without a doubt Chicago would have been dominant. As it was, they were simply one of several contenders.

Two other western cities with fewer resources than Chicago followed the same model in luring talent – the Forest City club of Cleveland and Kekionga of Fort Wayne. However, their fortunes seemed less bright due to the difficulty of attracting top talent to lesser cities offering smaller salaries.

Finally, there were two entrants to the Association from smaller cities that were probably among the best clubs in the nation in the late 1860s – the clubs from Troy, New York and Rockford, Illinois. In both cases, the cities had been more aggressive than most in bringing in amateur players from other cities and giving them easy work so they could play base ball for the local team. This proved a very successful strategy in the days of amateur ball, but it was far less certain how it would fare in an era when even the largest cities were openly professional.

With these nine cities – Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Cleveland, Fort Wayne, Troy and Rockford – the first season of top flight professional base ball would begin.

From the season’s start it was clear that two clubs were better than the others: Harry Wright’s transplanted Red Stocking club in Boston, and Mutual, the reigning powerhouse club in New York City. Boston was led by Harry Wright’s younger brother George, who hit a league-leading .394 while also being one of the best defensive shortstops in the league. Several other players – including catcher Cal McVey, outfielder Sam Jackson, second baseman Ross Barnes, and Harry Wright himself in center field – were solid contributors, but it was George Wright who was the team’s make-or-break player.

In New York, the team was built upon good defense rather than great hitting, and thus defensive standouts Bob Ferguson – popularly known as “Death to Flying Things” – at third base, Dave Eggler at center field, and the well-traveled Dickey Pearce at shortstop were the club’s leaders.

As the season wound down, it became apparent that there might be some controversy about who the champion would be. The original plan was for each team to play all other teams in a best three out of five series, and the club with the most wins would be champions. However, it quickly became apparent that some of the clubs that were less successful, such as Fort Wayne (8-11) and Rockford (7-18) were not going to fulfill their obligations under the schedule. This meant that Boston and New York would not play the same number of games. So the question was: should the champion be the club with the most wins, or the club with the best percentage?

After some discussion, in August a compromise was reached. The announcement was that the National Association champion would be the club whose number of wins minus losses was the greatest. This tended to favor a club that played more games, but it did prevent situations where a blatantly worse team won by virtue of simply continuing to play until it had enough victories.

This ended up being the compromise that decided the title. Boston finished the season with 22 wins and 8 losses. Mutual played three more games, and finished with 23 wins and 10 losses. Mutual had the most wins, but Boston was 14 victories over .500 while Mutual was merely 13 ahead. In a controversial finish that was not accepted as final in New York, Boston was awarded the National Association’s first title.

Overall standings:

Boston 22-8
Mutual 23-10
Chicago 14-14
Athletic 14-14
Cleveland 14-15
Olympic 14-16
Kekionga 8-11
Troy 9-19
Rockford 7-18
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Old 02-19-2016, 10:21 AM   #3
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Chadwick Sports Newsletter

April 1872

Professional Base Ball Season Preview

Following the season-long battle between Boston and Mutual in 1871, there were some changes to the Association in the 1871-72 offseason. First of all, the third place Chicago club announced that they would be unable to compete in 1872, primarily because their city lay in ruins following the Great Fire of October 1871. Their top players would be free to sign with other clubs. In addition, two of the smaller cities from 1871, Fort Wayne and Rockford, dropped out of the Association for 1872, as it was apparent they did not have the resources to compete with America’s largest cities in an all-professional competition.

That left six of the clubs from 1871 – Boston, Mutual, Athletic, Cleveland, Olympic and Troy. Five new clubs joined the fray for the 1872 season. Two were top clubs from Brooklyn – Atlantic and Eckford. Atlantic in particular had a successful history, and indeed they were probably the best team in the east in the late 1860s and in 1870. However, there were some doubts about how they would fare in the Association, as many of their top players had left the club in 1871 when they declined to join the new organization. Eckford’s future looked even more doubtful, as they lacked the powerful pedigree of the Atlantic club.

There was also a new team following the questionable Cleveland/Fort Wayne model of luring out of town talent to a small city – the Mansfield club of Middletown, Connecticut. It seemed truly unlikely they would bring in enough top players to compete with leading organizations. Meanwhile, the Lord Baltimore club from Maryland seemed likely to have more success, as they added mostly top established players and seemed to have the resources to compete with even Boston and Mutual.

Finally, there was the National club from the nation’s capital. During the amateur era, National was a top club, mostly because they were able to use the U.S. Treasury Department to give patronage jobs to good players. With open professionalism the new byword of the day, it seemed less likely they would be able to compete.

A snapshot of the clubs and their chances for success in 1872:

Boston – Last year’s winners are mostly intact, with right fielder Fraley Rogers as the only newcomer to the starting nine. They should be similar to the 1871 club.

Mutual – Death to Flying Things moved to Atlantic, and Mutual had newcomers at catcher, third base and in right field. Perhaps they will be slightly less competitive this season.

Athletic – They may have some defensive problems this season, as they have some hitters but not enough experienced infielders. Expect them to lose many high-scoring affairs.

Forest City – The Clevelands have most of their players returning, and should be competitive if they have the resources to keep going throughout the season – there are rumors this might not be the case.

Olympic – Their roster is also similar to 1871’s, and thus they should have similar results. Expect them to be a team toward the middle of the standings.

Troy – They were already a weak club in 1871, and some of their best players departed in the offseason. They look like one of the weakest clubs in the Association.

Lord Baltimore – They spared no expense bringing in top players, including Chick Fulmer, Lip Pike, Everett Mills and Fred Treacey. Likely to challenge Boston and Mutual for supremacy.

Atlantic – Though they lost some key players by not joining the Association in 1871, they have several top men this year, including Bob Ferguson and John Bass. They should be competitive in 1872.

Eckford – They failed to sign any top players, but got several second-tier hitters from various 1871 clubs and expect to be at least adequate as a result.

Mansfield – They are a young team with few if any top stars. Could surprise and win a few games, but it is more likely they will fall as other smaller cities did in 1871.

National – It is unlikely that the second-best team in the nation’s capital will be able to do much in the Association.

The official Chadwick predictions for the Association this season: Boston first, Lord Baltimore second, Mutual third.
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Old 02-19-2016, 11:23 AM   #4
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November 1872

Base Ball Year in Review

In the early going, the young Mansfield club and the two Brooklyn teams played surprisingly well, while the more established clubs such as Boston, Mutual and Athletic lagged behind in the standings. However, Mansfield ran out of funds midseason and dropped the rest of their schedule, while the Brooklyn clubs both fell back to the field as the season wore on.

Once that happened, there was little competition for Harry Wright’s Boston squad. Mutual and Lord Baltimore were solid clubs, as were the Brooklyn squads, but Wright had his brother George, who slumped to .269 but still provided outstanding defense for the infield, as well as Ross Barnes (.394) and Cal McVey (.362). Outfield Fred Cone and first baseman Charlie Gould also hit over .300, and that was all they needed to easily win the title, their second consecutive Association crown.

Overall standings for the season:

Boston 30-17
Mansfield 17-7
Mutual 31-23
National 8-3
Atlantic 21-16
Lord Baltimore 27-27
Eckford 14-15
Cleveland 10-12
Olympic 3-6
Athletic 15-29
Troy 2-23
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Old 02-19-2016, 01:08 PM   #5
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April 1873

National Association Preview

For this new season, the financially stable clubs – Boston, Mutual, Atlantic, Lord Baltimore and Athletic – returned to battle for national supremacy, and they were joined by four new clubs. Of these, the one that looks most stable is the Philadelphia Whites. This new Philly team poached many of the top players from their crosstown rivals, which should help them, but might cause further struggles with Athletic. These six clubs all have hopes to compete for the title this season, and they are joined by three clubs that would be fortunate to simply survive the year. Elizabeth, New Jersey has apparently not learned the lesson of such small cities as Rockford, Middletown and Fort Wayne, and their Resolute club will contest the season. The new Washington Blue Legs club will fill the void left by the collapse of both of the Association clubs from the nation’s capital, and the Baltimore Marylands will try to compete as the second-best club in Baltimore.

The projected starters for the big six clubs:

Lord Baltimore:

C – Dick Higham (.281 in 1872)
1B – Jim Carleton (.202 in 1872 with Cleveland)
2B – Tom Carey (.242 in 1872)
SS – John Radcliff (.309 in 1872)
3B – Frank Norton (played in 3 games in 1871-72 with Olympic)
LF – George Hall (.286 in 1872)
CF – Lip Pike (.335 in 1872)
RF – Phonney Martin (.288 in 1872 with Troy)
P – Asa Brainard (3-6 in 1872 with Olympic)

Boston:

C – Cal McVey (.362 in 1872)
1B – Charlie Gould (.311 in 1872)
2B – Ross Barnes (.394 in 1872)
SS – George Wright (.269 in 1872)
3B – Deacon White (.307 in 1872 with Cleveland)
LF – Steve King (.376 in 1872 with Troy)
CF – George Bird (.252 in 1872 with Eckford)
RF – Gat Stires (.309 in 1872 with Eckford)
P – Al Spalding (30-14 in 1872)

Atlantic:

C – Tom Barlow (backup catcher in 1872 for Atlantic)
1B – Herman Dehlman (.276 in 1872)
2B – Jack Burdock (.227 in 1872)
SS – John Bass (.309 in 1872)
3B – Bob Ferguson (.336 in 1872)
LF – Ralph Ham (.345 in 1872)
CF – Jack Remsen (.288 in 1872)
RF – Frank Buttery (rookie)
P – Jim Britt (20-15 in 1872)

Mutual:

C – Nat Hicks (.311 in 1872)
1B – Joe Start (.338 in 1872)
2B – John Hatfield (.293 in 1872)
SS – Dickey Pearce (.253 in 1872)
3B – Bill Boyd (.269 in 1872)
LF – Harry Berthrong (.316 in 1872)
CF – Dave Eggler (.364 in 1872)
RF – Caleb Johnson (.274 in 1872 with Cleveland)
P – Candy Cummings (4-1 in 1872)

Athletic:

C – William Bestick (rookie)
1B – Adrian “Cap” Anson (.265 in 1872 with Mansfield)
2B – Wes Fisler (.313 in 1872)
SS – Dickie Flowers (.266 in 1872 with Troy)
3B – Charlie Smith (.432 in 1872 with Olympic)
LF – Ed Mincher (.317 in 1872 with National)
CF – Count Sensenderfer (.291 in 1872)
RF – Al Reach (.259 in 1872)
P – Dick McBride (15-29 in 1872)

Philadelphia Whites:

C – Fergy Malone (.266 in 1872 with Athletic)
1B – Clipper Flynn (.288 in 1872 with Troy)
2B – Jimmy Wood (.306 in 1872 with National)
SS – Chick Fulmer (.250 in 1872 with Lord Baltimore)
3B – Levi Meyerle (.332 in 1872 with Athletic)
LF – Fred Treacey (.269 in 1872 with Lord Baltimore)
CF – Tim Murnane (.308 in 1872 with Mansfield)
RF – George Bechtel (.270 in 1872 with Athletic)
P – George Zettlein (8-3 in 1872 with National)

The official Chadwick predictions for the Association this season: Boston first, Mutual second, Philadelphia Whites third.
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Old 02-19-2016, 03:47 PM   #6
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November 1873

Base Ball Year in Review

The season ended up being something less than exciting, as Harry Wright’s Boston club jumped out to an early lead and then ran away with the Association pennant. Although Athletic’s Adrian Anson and Baltimore’s Lip Pike both had big seasons (hitting .353 and .352 respectively), no individual effort could match the team performance of Boston. They were led by catcher Cal McVey, who led the Association in hitting at .378, but they got plenty of other great performances from Ross Barnes (.342), Deacon White (.339), George Wright (.296), Al Spalding (.321) and Steve King (.328). There was simply no competing with them this season.

The final standings:

Boston 43-16
Mutual 32-21
Washington 23-16
Philadelphia 30-23
Maryland 3-3
Atlantic 25-29
Athletic 21-30
Resolute 4-19
Lord Baltimore 16-40
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Old 02-19-2016, 06:28 PM   #7
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November 1874

Base Ball Year in Review

For the first time in Association history, Harry Wright’s Boston club failed to win the title, and the team that dethroned them was a surprise – it was the Chicago White Stockings, back in the NA after a two-year absence due to the Great Fire. With seven regulars batting .285 or better, Chicago was simply unstoppable, going 41-18 in their first year back in the Association to narrowly win the title:

Chicago 41-18
Boston 45-25
Mutual 41-24
Atlantic 31-24
Philadelphia 27-31
Hartford 21-32
Athletic 17-38
Lord Baltimore 8-39

Through four seasons of play, Cal McVey, the Boston catcher, was the best career hitter, with 342 total hits, considerably ahead of his teammates George Wright (314) and Ross Barnes (313). For the 1875 season, the terrible Baltimore team was disbanding, but six new clubs – two St. Louis clubs, a third Philly club, a new Washington club, and clubs from New Haven, Connecticut and Keokuk, Iowa – would battle with the seven established teams for Association supremacy.
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Old 02-20-2016, 12:43 PM   #8
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November 1875

Base Ball Year in Review

For the second consecutive year, Boston finished a close second in the Association title race. This time, though, it was the Philadelphia Whites who won out, as they rebounded from a losing season to go 44-24 to bring the City of Brotherly Love its first title. Outfielder Bill Kelly and infielder Jimmy Wood were the team’s top hitters, but the defense was what really led them to victory. Wood and Chick Fulmer anchored the middle infield, and center fielder Tim Murnane was also a standout player. The final standings:

Philadelphia 44-24
Boston 49-30
Hartford 48-34
Brooklyn 27-17
St. Louis Browns 39-29
Mutual 38-30
Centennial 8-6
St. Louis Reds 9-10
National 10-18
Chicago 28-39
Western 1-12
New Haven 15-32
Athletic 19-54

For 1876, there would be a change that was meant to add stability to the world of baseball. The National Association, with its loose membership rules, would be replaced by a new National League. Six existing clubs – Boston, Hartford, St. Louis, Mutual, Chicago and Athletic – would be a part of the new organization, along with new clubs representing Cincinnati and Louisville. The defending champions would be left out in the cold, as Athletic convinced Chicagoan William Hulbert, the man behind the new idea, to let them be the Philadelphia representative.
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Old 02-20-2016, 01:18 PM   #9
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November 1876

Base Ball Year in Review

The first year of the new National League brought stability to professional baseball, as eight teams played a schedule of similar length. However, this season was not without controversy, as the Athletic and Mutual clubs refused to complete a late season western swing on the grounds that it would be unprofitable. This did not sit well with league president William Hulbert of Chicago, and he banned the two clubs from the league, thus severing two of the last remaining ties to the amateur era. For 1877, only six teams – Boston, Hartford, St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati and Louisville – would battle for the national baseball championship.

For 1876, Hartford jumped out to an early lead, then spent most of the summer with Boston, Louisville and St. Louis nipping at their heels. Finally, with a good run Boston took the lead for good and won the first-ever National League pennant:

Boston 46-24
Louisville 41-25
Hartford 40-28
St. Louis 37-27
Mutual 25-31
Cincinnati 28-37
Chicago 23-43
Athletic 17-42

Through six seasons, Cal McVey, the Boston catcher, was the all-time hit leader with 537, ahead of teammates George Wright (523) and Ross Barnes (475). Lip Pike of St. Louis was the leader in home runs with 24, and Boston’s Al Spalding led the way with 154 wins as a pitcher, despite the fact that he had an injury that kept him out for the entire season and that threatened his further career on the mound.
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Old 02-20-2016, 03:35 PM   #10
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November 1877

Base Ball Year in Review

For the second consecutive year, there was a close pennant race between Boston and Louisville. This time, though, there were some very ugly insinuations. Louisville spent most of the summer in a comfortable lead, but late in the year they lost just enough games to finish one behind Boston for the National League pennant. Many alleged that this was the result of the Louisville club losing games purposely at the behest of local gambling interests. League president William Hulbert quickly announced his intention to get to the bottom of things, but the damage was done and the Louisville club announced it was folding at season’s end. They were joined in oblivion by St. Louis and Hartford, as only Boston, Chicago and Cincinnati would remain for 1878. Clearly the National League was having trouble and it remained an open question whether this national professional format would succeed.

On the field, though, there were some great performances. Adrian Anson, the star first baseman of the Louisville club, led the league in basically every offensive category as he batted a robust .360. McVey and Barnes of Boston were nearly as good, hitting .345 and .329 respectively. Slick-fielding George Wright provided outstanding defense for Boston and had another .300 year at the plate. Meanwhile, Boston pitcher George Knight led the league in wins with 25 and in strikeouts with 159. If the National League could just find some stability off the field, they would likely be a great success.

Boston 39-21
Louisville 38-22
St. Louis 30-30
Cincinnati 28-29
Chicago 23-36
Hartford 19-39
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Old 02-20-2016, 07:05 PM   #11
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November 1878

Base Ball Year in Review

This time the club in Boston was in no mood to barely win the pennant. They signed nearly every top player available in the offseason, including Anson from Louisville and Pike from St. Louis, and it showed. Four of the top five hitters were from Boston – Waterman (.342), McVey (.338), Manning (.336) and Anson (.327) left only Chicago’s Levi Meyerle on the leaderboard. In addition, ace pitcher George Knight led pitchers in basically every category, as he went 32-6 with a 1.32 earned run average and 229 strikeouts. Not surprisingly, Boston was never really tested in this pennant run, breezing to a comfortable domination of Milwaukee and Chicago. Furthermore, the league continued to struggle financially as well as competitively, as Milwaukee and Indianapolis folded up shop after the season. To fill out the roster of clubs for 1879, the National League added franchises in Cleveland as well as three upstate New York teams – Buffalo, Syracuse and Troy. With Boston having won all three National League pennants, and the teams contesting the pennant coming from smaller and smaller cities, it seemed questionable whether the circuit could survive.

Through eight seasons, McVey remains the all-time leader in hits with 719, while Pike’s 29 home runs are the most of any player. For pitchers, now-infielder Al Spalding still leads with 154 wins, while Knight’s 584 strikeouts have him far ahead of the field.

Boston 41-19
Milwaukee 34-26
Chicago 33-27
Providence 31-29
Indianapolis 25-35
Cincinnati 16-44
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Old 02-21-2016, 12:35 AM   #12
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November 1879

Base Ball Year in Review

For the fourth consecutive year of the National League’s existence, the Boston club won the pennant. For the second consecutive year, they were never seriously challenged in that run. Their two ace pitchers, George Knight (32-12) and Dan Collins (21-9) led the way, as only one other pitcher in the league made it to 20 wins for the season. Although second baseman Ross Barnes spent much of the year injured and infielders George Wright and Fred Waterman had their batting averages drop below .300, Adrian Anson continued to dominate, batting a league-leading .346 for Boston. Although the league, now with eight clubs, managed a modicum of stability as only Syracuse left the league following the season, interest in the league was down. Boston wasn’t as good as the old Cincinnati Red Stockings club that won all those games in the amateur era, but they were too good for any other clubs to really challenge them.

Boston 60-24
Buffalo 45-33
Providence 47-37
Chicago 41-38
Troy 38-37
Syracuse 28-42
Cincinnati 30-50
Cleveland 27-55
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Old 02-21-2016, 01:02 AM   #13
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Guest Column

“Why I Was Wrong to Create the Boston Club”

Boston, a team created at the start of this decade by transplanting the Cincinnati Red Stockings, should never have been allowed to exist and dominate baseball. They put the professional game at risk because cranks from other cities will never stand for perpetually trailing the top clubs, and if something is not done they will be the death of the National League. I ought to know – I was the one who created them.

My Boston club was strong, and the most financially stable of the clubs, but they were not invincible. I ran the club – and at first, played for them in center field – during the Association days, and while we won the first three pennants, Chicago and Philadelphia defeated us in the last two years of the circuit. Though we were the strongest club, we could not just dominate as a matter of course.

Things have changed. In the league days, every prominent player whose team folds from the league finds his way to Boston. It happened to stars such as Adrian Anson and Lip Pike, and to top pitchers like George Knight. In the first two years of the National League Boston barely managed to win, but in the last two years they have simply had no competition. I tried managing against them for the old Athletic club in 1876, but we had no more luck than anyone else has had.

It is my firm belief that something must be done to level the field. I have seen several proposals and know not which is the best, but clubs that can dominate this thoroughly are bad for the game. If men are to continue making baseball into a new American business, there must be real competition. I will never again be a part of such a ruination of a league’s balance, and hope that soon wiser men will undo what I helped to do in Boston.

Yours in sorrow,

Harry Wright

Editor’s note: Mr. Wright was hired to manage the Cincinnati Reds club one week after this column was published.
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Old 02-22-2016, 11:38 AM   #14
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Chadwick Sports Newsletter

Special Edition – July 3, 1880

Yesterday’s game between the Boston Red Stockings and the Chicago White Stockings, played in Chicago’s Lake Front Park, was surely one of the most consequential ball games in the history of the professional league. For the first time in years, Chicago were threatening to end Boston’s reign of dominance in the National League, and the teams entered the game tied with identical 21-12 records. Though the match was simply the first of two, with the sequel to be played this afternoon, the winner of the game would for one day be known as the masters of all baseball.

The Chicago papers were calling it the Game of the Century, which was surely an exaggeration, but it was indeed a crucial match. Interest in the National League was waning with Boston having a stranglehold on the pennant, and this was just the thing to revive the spirits of other teams’ supporters.

For the game, Boston went with their usual mix of veteran players, while Chicago had a ragtag crew that did not seem up to the challenge on paper, though their rookie pitcher was having a season to behold:

Boston lineup

Ross Barnes, 2b
George Hall, lf
Adrian Anson, 1b
John O’Rourke, cf
Cal McVey, c
Ezra Sutton, 3b
Jack Manning, rf
Sadie Houck, ss
George Knight, p

Chicago lineup

Bill McClellan, 2b
Art Allison, rf
Levi Meyerle, 3b
Tom Burns, ss
Jim Keenan, c
Dave Rowe, cf
Mike Mansell, lf
Wes Fisler, 1b
Larry Corcoran, p

For the first four innings, Corcoran controlled the Boston hitters, giving up only two hits and no runs. But Knight was even better for Boston, giving up no hits at all. The first big threat came in the bottom of the fifth, as Chicago’s Jim Keenan led off the inning with a triple, Chicago’s first hit of the game. He scampered home on a passed ball with Dave Rowe at the plate, and Chicago had the 1-0 lead. Furious, Knight promptly got three strikeouts on the inning to keep the game within one run.

Boston got the run back in the top of the sixth, as George Hall reached base on a throwing error, then a two-out single by Cal McVey brought him home and the game was knotted at 1.

In the bottom of the seventh, though, McVey committed a throwing error on a stolen base attempt by Jim Keenan, and Keenan was able to score to make it 2-1 Chicago. Another runner scored on a passed ball in the inning, making it 3-1. Although McVey had brought home Boston’s run with his bat, his defense was costing the champions. That was all the scoring for the game, and fittingly a popup by McVey was the last out for Boston. Chicago had won the game and for a day, they were the top club in baseball.

Strangely, the teams executed a trade of players after the game, with infielder John Hatfield, a star with the Mutual club of old, going to Chicago, while catching prospect Fatty Briody headed to Boston along with a little-known pitcher named O’Rourke.
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Old 02-22-2016, 12:54 PM   #15
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Chadwick Sports Newsletter

November 1880

Base Ball Year in Review

Despite a bit of a scare in midsummer as Chicago beat them in a crucial early July game, Boston ended up cruising to yet another National League pennant:

Boston 57-27
Chicago 51-33
Providence 45-39
Buffalo 43-39
Troy 43-40
Cleveland 42-42
Cincinnati 27-53
Worcester 24-59

With yet another dominant performance, Boston was causing interest in the league to collapse. George Knight (31-12), Cal McVey (.310) and Ezra Sutton (.333) were the stars of the season, but the entire club was far beyond the best of the league. Harry Wright’s Cincinnati club folded at season’s end, and they would be replaced in 1881 by a club from Detroit, and the league seemed like it might not last much longer.

However, rumors began surfacing during the offseason that Chicago’s William Hulbert, Harry Wright and some western magnates were discussing a secret plan to rescue professional baseball. At any rate, something clearly needed to be done – Boston had won three of five titles in the Association days, then all five National League pennants.

Through ten years of professional baseball, here are the all time career leaders:

Batting – Cal McVey, .321
Hits – Cal McVey, 913
Home Runs – Lip Pike, 31
Wins – George Knight, 155
Strikeouts – George Knight, 1,069

Nearly all of the players on the leaderboards are or were members of the Boston club, of course.
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Old 02-22-2016, 09:11 PM   #16
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Chadwick Sports Newsletter

Special Update – July 31, 1881

With Boston two games ahead of the field once again, and looking like the favorites to win their sixth title in six National League seasons, the other owners knew they needed to act. According to our Chadwick Sports sources, William Hulbert of Chicago met with several other owners and with Harry Wright, one of the fathers of the professional game. The group decided that in order to maintain a level of interest, two innovations would be necessary. First, a second league would need to be devised, that would exist side by side with the National League though they would never play one another in the regular season. This way, there could be legitimate debate over which league was better.

Second, the two league champions would face off at the end of the season in a “World’s Series” to determine the top club. In a short series between two leagues, it would be less likely that the men from Boston would simply dominate the competition. Thus, teams would be celebrated both for winning their league pennant and for winning the World’s Series Tournament at season’s end.

For the inaugural season of what would be known as the American Association, several wealthy men in western cities were approached. The tentative list of clubs for 1882 would include Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Louisville, Philadelphia and Baltimore, with two more to be added at a later date.
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Old 02-22-2016, 11:55 PM   #17
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Special Update – September 30, 1881

After five seasons of National League dominance, Boston’s pennant chances were finally in jeopardy for the first time. In fact, there was an embarrassment of riches in the National League this season, as no less than three teams still had title hopes, with a fourth having been eliminated on September 29, the penultimate day of the season. Going into the final day, the standings at the top of the league were as follows:

Boston 46-36
Troy 46-37
Buffalo 45-37
Detroit 45-38

On the final day, Boston hosted Cleveland, a team that had just beaten them in two consecutive contests. If Boston won, the sixth straight title would be theirs and theirs alone. However, if they lost and Troy won at home against Detroit, the Trojans would win the National League pennant. If both teams lost and Buffalo managed to beat last placed Providence, Buffalo and Boston would share the pennant – an unprecedented feat.

For the crucial Cleveland-Boston contest, the starting lineups were as follows:

Cleveland
Ed Cogswell, 1b
Jack Glasscock, ss
George Hall, lf
Fred Dunlap, 2b
Charlie Eden, rf
Jerry Denny, 3b
Jack Remsen, cf
Doc Kennedy, c
Bobby Mitchell, p

Boston
Adrian Anson, 1b
Frank McCarton, lf
Ross Barnes, 2b
John O’Rourke, cf
Cal McVey, c
Curry Foley, rf
Fred Waterman, 3b
George Wright, ss
Hugh Campbell, p

Boston wasted no time getting things started in the bottom of the first inning, as they sent eight men to the plate with two walks and three hits. By the time the dust settled, the Beantowners had a 3-0 lead over Cleveland. They did not stop with this lead, as doubles by veterans George Wright and Adrian “Cap” Anson allowed Boston to score three more times in the bottom of the fourth to take a 6-0 lead. The telegraph brought news that Detroit had taken a 2-0 lead over Troy, but it looked like the other games would not matter.

Back to back doubles by Bobby Mitchell and Ed Cogswell got one back for the Blues in the top of the fifth inning, but it was still a 6-1 Boston lead. The teams exchanged runs over the next two innings, but it was still a comfortable 7-2 margin for Boston. The home crowd ended up never having to worry, as that was the final margin, with Frank McCarton catching a routine fly out in the ninth inning to give the Bostons their sixth consecutive National League crown.
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Old 02-23-2016, 11:45 AM   #18
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Chadwick Sports Newsletter

November 1881

Base Ball Year in Review

It was a battle for Boston to win the sixth of six National League titles, but in the end the club did it yet again:

Boston 47-36
Detroit 46-38
Troy 46-38
Buffalo 45-38
Chicago 42-42
Cleveland 42-42
Worcester 33-49
Providence 33-51

Ross Barnes (.313) was the hitting star for the Bostons, but the team was built around defense and the pitching of George Knight (23-17) and Hugh Campbell (20-11). However, for the first time, some good young players were beginning to emerge on teams other than Boston. For instance, the batting champion was Roger Connor, a second-year player for Troy who hit .336 for the season. John Montgomery Ward (.324) of Providence and Abner Dalrymple of Buffalo (.320) finished second and third, and all three were young players. It looked like Boston might have some competition for the top spot for the first time ever.

Meanwhile, things were ready to begin in the new American Association. Although there was some rivalry between the organizations, with some die-hard National Leaguers referring to the new circuit as the “beer and whiskey league” since their stadiums would be permitted to sell alcohol, the agreement to hold a playoff series at year’s end still held. There would be a World’s Series tournament in 1882.
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Old 02-24-2016, 10:56 AM   #19
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Feb 24 1882

Dear Joe,

I recently got your letter and had to wonder at the strangeness of things. I left the old hometown in order to find top flight ball and it seems I could have stayed as it has come there to Louisville. I am glad anyway that we will not be rivals over the season, as I could not bear to play against the club that gave me the first opportunity. Maybe we will meet in the new World’s Series tournament this season.

We began training for the new season this afternoon, and I can see that I will need to start over if I am to get myself a spot here. Would that I could have brought some of the fans who saw that Akron game last season! The manager, Mr. Hal Vincent, seems to have learned about me from that game, but we have two veterans who plan on manning second base this season, and it will be a struggle to get any time on the field. John Hatfield and Candy Nelson have both been starters here in recent years and seem intent on staying that way, but they are also old men – I don’t know how old, but I am sure they are both past 30. I hope that when I get to be that old I will be doing something else and letting younger men have their spot on the diamond.

Hatfield in particular was difficult today. He would only talk to me to tell me there was no place on the club for players still learning, as we were going to challenge Boston for the title this season. I wonder at this, as I am not much younger than some of the players on the club in established positions, such as Ewing and Connor. However, they seem to have a tradition of not speaking to the new players much, and it is for this reason that I have time to write.

I hope to make the team’s roster when the season begins, but there are nearly 40 men competing for the 20 spots. I will probably have to beat out one of the veterans to get a place, but the hitting coach Mr. Yeatman – himself an old ball player – told me this afternoon I have a chance if I can work on my batting swing. I do not know what happens to those players who fail to make it, so if things do not go well I may see you sooner than expected.

Good luck in your preparations for the new season, and make sure to beat those Cincinnati boys. Give my regards to everyone on the club and tell them if I make it down to New York City I will send them a postcard.

Regards,

Fritz
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Old 02-24-2016, 03:39 PM   #20
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Mar 5 1882

Fritz,

I hope this letter finds you well. Got your letter of the 24th and I am happy to hear that you are remain in the running for a roster place. Here in Louisville things are mostly well as we prepare for the season. However, I am concerned that I may have some trouble finding a place, as the club has so many men who can play behind the plate. Also, my knowledge of the pitchers will help less, as Reccius is moving to the infield this season and a new pitcher named Mullane will replace him. I still know Hecker as well as any man, but who knows whether this will carry the day?

They are also bringing in many new players to fill your old spots in the middle of the infield. If you get tired of playing with those National League boys, feel free to come back as we could use a man with your defensive skills.

No time to write more now as you know how Mrs. Ernst at the boardinghouse is about writing letters on the Sabbath. Good luck with the roster battle and I hope to see you soon.

Yours,

J. Crotty
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