Al Spalding

Today I did some research on the America’s Historical Newspaper on Al Spalding and found some interesting facts about him and the Chicago White Stockings. Spalding had many good games and I even found out some rare times when he did not do so well. One article I found reported that when Chicago beat the Cincinnati Reds 15-9 on May 2nd, that day was was a normal day for the White Stockings and Al Spalding had a normal day also. Another article, dated April 27, described a game where Chicago obliterated the Louisville Browns 10 to 0. That article also states how Spalding was the only one from the Chicago White Stocking to Push Jim Devlin to his limits hitting 3 of the 8 base hits. Spalding and McVey had exceptional playing that day at pitching and first base.

These articles are helping me learn about the individual aspects of the teams and how people perceived how they played.

Al Spalding Father of Baseball

A major person in Al Spalding baseball career was William Hulbert. William Hulbert was the founder of the National League of baseball. He determined that the League should be founded on square dealings, recognition of contracts, and business integrity along with a more orderly game on the field through prohibitions on drinking, gambling, and Sunday baseball. He was also the owner of the Chicago White Stockings. Hulbert was able to get Al Spalding away from the Boston Red Caps with a huge contract and with him he gained few other players from Boston. William Hulbert’s Chicago White Stockings one the first National League championship.

William A. Hulbert, president of National League

William A. Hulbert, president of NationalLeague,The A. G. Spalding Baseball Collection at Stephen A. Schwarzman Building / Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs

Al Spalding and the beginning of the National League

When looking up information about Al Spalding I found a lot of  interesting stuff, particularly about how baseball leagues functioned at the time.  The National League was established in 1876.   William Hulbert convinced great players to switch teams. In 1876, the National League had eight teams in it, four from the East and four from the West. Surprisingly I also found out that teams were named after the socks they wore, like the Boston Red Stockings and St Louis Browns. In March of 1876, Hulbert convinced three other players to move to Chicago but I am having trouble on finding how much they made.

Boston Red Stockings, DATE. Photographer. Collection. Link.

Al Spalding (center) and the Boston Red Stockings, DATE. Photographer. Collection. Link.

Al Spalding

Al Spalding, The A. G. Spalding Baseball Collection at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building / Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs

Al Spalding: Father of Baseball

While studying Al Spalding, I have learned much about how baseball became the sport it is today. Before 1876, baseball was a fairly corrupt sport. The creation of the National League helped to create a governing body over all the teams, removing the gambler’s influences, stabilizing franchises and ending the dominance of the Boston Red Stockings. Why would it matter if the league did not have central authority? Well, without some authority governing the league teams they would break commitments to play other teams, for instance, if they knew they would not have a chance to win the championship. It would be like the Jacksonville Jaguars refusing to travel to the West Coast to play. After the 1876 season, two teams were expelled from the National League for refusing to travel to the West to play their road games during the season. When Al Spalding left Boston for Chicago, it demonstrated that even popular and great players could switch teams and make a difference. Al Spalding’s move was quick and sudden, and the move had an influence on other players. With players switching teams, all the teams became more equally good. In Al Spalding’s career, we can see the end of Boston’s dominance in the league and the rise of other national teams.

With the creation of the National Leagues, baseball became a fairer sport. The League is now over hundred years old and running strong with fifteen teams, arguably with no team having clear dominance over the others. With the creation of the American League, the National league began playing a championship World Series in 1903.

Some stats on Spalding:

During the 1876 season, Al Spalding could be seen as the MVP. During that year  as a pitcher he played in 61 games completing 53 games of them and played in 528.2 innings. He faced 2,219 batters with only allowing 542 hits with 6 home runs. During those games he had 39 strike outs allowing 226 runs but had 8 shutouts and 7 double plays.  Overall he won 47 games. As a batter with 292 at bats during 66 games, Spalding had 75 singles 14 doubles 2 triples and zero home runs. He had also 91 hits and was shuck out 3 times and got out 201 times. He also made 54 runs and batted in 44 other players to make runs.

Al Spalding Forefather of Baseball

I’m doing my microhistory on Al Spalding. He became a huge sports icon in the nineteenth century. I am going to be focusing on his career in baseball from when he started until he ended his career. But he is known today more for making sport equipment for all kinds of sports. Many sports players use his equipment nowadays but know little about the man who made them. In the nineteenth century he was a great player.

So far, I have found two biographies of Al Spalding as well as his “Hall of Fame” page.  A stat sheet of Al Spalding from his years from playing baseball also survives. I’ll also use sources on the history of sport and baseball in the nineteenth century.