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.