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The Saga of Baseball

Started By goroyals, Jun 03, 2014 10:44 AM

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#1

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The Origin of Baseball
 
A number of theories posit that Abner Doubleday was not the true inventor of baseball, but the evidence weighs heavy against them. The vast majority of historical research points to Doubleday inventing the game in May of 1839 in Cooperstown, New York. Doubleday, soon to depart for West Point, set down the official rules to baseball with his boyhood friends. The group had long played stick and ball games, and the future Union general later said that the rules had served as a going away present.
 
“The games of ball and stick were the predominant pastime of my youth in Cooperstown,” Doubleday recounted, “and, so, that what we had undertook could live on, we set about recording how it was to be played.” 
 
Abner_Doubleday.jpg?1299524276
Abner Doubleday
 
The Baseball Rules of 1839 bear many differences to the modern game, but the similarities are evident enough to leave little doubt that this was the genesis of the sport. The emphasis was on gentlemanly conduct initially, but winning was still the source of high honor. Amongst the amateur clubs, talent was widely diffused. That didn’t stop participants from establishing the strategic fundamentals of their infant game. The best clubs of this era were those proficient in defense and baserunning. The difficulties of barehanded fielding and rough hewn diamonds meant that fielders who could overcome the natural bias were tough opponents. Speed on the basepaths exploited defensive miscues and led to big innings. Hitting was not yet the toughest task, since batters could call for a specific location, and the pitcher was usually obliged to cooperate. The best hitters, then, were those who could control the area where their ball was to be hit, and with what force. 
 
Doubleday was not to witness the first game of baseball. Several of his companions went to New York City that summer, and finding the ball game scene there thriving, if unorganized, set about establishing a club to promote their social status. They were confident in their new rules, and formed the Alpha Baseball Club of New York, recruiting several local players to expand their ranks. On Saturday, July 6th, they took a ferry across to New Jersey and Elysian Fields, and there met a picked nine of opponents in the first game of baseball ever played.


#2

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New York Gazzette, Society Pages, July 7th, 1839
 
BASEBALL MATCH ENTERTAINS
 
The Alpha Club of New York put on the finest stick and ball display yet. Using a set of rules they title as ‘signature’ the so-called “Baseball Rules” they took the field to the cheers of many hundred bemused go’ers of the Elysian Field. Perhaps it was little surprise, owing to their superior familiarity, it being their own creation of course, that they defeated an opposing Picked Nine of Brooklyn. What was surprising though, was the near certain defeat the Alpha Club had to avoid.
 
Alpha labored at a deficit before out-running their competitors 6-1 in the final two innings of the nine inning affair. The judges’ ledger stood at 10-9 in their favor after all hands out. Perhaps the slogging comeback had been provoked by an injury to one Virtanen, right fielder, for the Club. From the moment his presence was denied to his mates, they played at a higher level. Whatever the story on the field, good humor was present among all assembled and many hoped that such a spectacle would be repeated.
 
BROOKLYN NINE 0  0  1      0  2  1      4  0  1     - 9
ALPHA CLUB    1  1  0      1  1  0      0  3  3     - 10
 
1859-elysian-fields-game.jpg
The First Game


#3

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Here is a try at a grand re imagination of the history of baseball, from the invention of the game on. I have always been intrigued at the many different ways the sport could have taken shape, and by the ability of OOTP to be represent many of these different possible layouts. The path baseball takes in this dynasty will be dynamic. Most of the changes will be via mechanisms I have created, but I do reserve the right to intervene in the storyline directly. The only limitations will be the ones imposed by OOTP, and in certain cases sheer practicality. 

To get an idea of how this ticks, the invention of the game mentioned in post #1 was not a predetermined starting point. I took the real life first baseball game of 1845 and created a bell curve where a random number could fall between the years 1775 and 1915. Thus, this project might have started with anything from baseball being invented as a patriotic pastime during the Revolution, or as a new pastime for workers in the Progressive era. The fateful roll itself fell on 1839 as the year of invention. I thought it was only natural that in this reality, then, that Doubleday actually invented baseball.

I can't promise that this will be the quickest dynasty report you've ever read, owing to big testing periods I plan on enduring between both in-game eras and conversions between different versions of the game. I can't promise that this is simply too ambitious to last, but it's the mega-project I've always wanted to do, and I can't see myself putting it down for good or wanting to start over. I hope that if I stick with it, the audience will find it a good read.

One last note, I am always going to loosely control one team. Right now, I am the aforementioned Alpha Club. Will we meet the end of most social clubs, or will we somehow beat the odds and last for years?



#4

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#7

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April 7, 1845
 
New York Clipper
 
by Patrick Savage
 
No less than one thousand strong watched the annual resumption of baseball skill at the Elysian Field on Saturday. Two clubs once again inhabit the ball playing sphere, and the work put in by both the Olympic and Interior clubs of this fair city was on full display. The batsmen minded the orb with exceptional focus and concentration, and their resulting hits unlet a torrent of tallies across the scoresheet. A defensive minded enthusiast might have left empty-handed, but judging from the whoops of the gentlemen in attendance and the faint blushes of the fairer sex so assembled, the defensive enthusiasts were few in number. The two dueling groups of players announced their plot for a second game later this summer. This writer, believing baseball to be the true “New York Game”, will endeavor to bring you the date and time of the upcoming contest. 
 
earlyboxscore_zps1a73fac6.jpg    


#8

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The National Association of Baseball Players (NABP)
 
The Alpha Club lasted for two seasons. The winds of change, and, in particular, Manifest Destiny, proved the undoing of the group dedicated to promoting the nascent game. After several of their members left to venture westward in the fall of 1840, the bond holding the team together vanished, and the remaining players recruited newcomers to form their own clubs. The Alpha Club lasted but for a brief second, even in baseball terms, but the legacy they established remains reflected in the game today.
 
In the wake of the Alpha Club’s disbandment, a pattern began to emerge. The still small fraternity of players would form a club or two each season, return to the Elysian Field in the summer for a few matches, and then come back in a new form the next season. The constant changing of club titles, and the lack of identifiers in general, made following the sport difficult and organizing a formal competition impossible.
 
Two factors emerged in the mid 1840’s to remedy baseball’s identity crisis. The first was William Patrick (W.P.) Savage. Savage was a writer for the New York Clipper, who began covering the matches at Elysian Field sometime around 1843-4. By 1845, Savage had come to believe in the game’s potential, and he fell into the efforts to promote its growth. His leadership in influencing both the players and the general public would prove invaluable over the next quarter century. The second factor was born as a product of the on the field results in 1847. That summer fans were able to enjoy the best baseball yet, a record number of matches were held, and, of particular importance, a higher standard of competition was set. The Good Intent Club of New York was new to the Elysian scene in 1847, but their collection of seasoned players and talented new athletes led them to a 3-1 record. When they announced their intention to go undefeated in 1848, people took notice. The first serious club had been established.
 
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W.P. Savage in the 1870's
 
Good Intent’s proclamation made the winter of 1847-1848 the first “arms race” in baseball history. Players exchanged a bevy of letters, the common thread being the desire to form clubs strong enough to beat Good Intent. By February, three other clubs had formed and made claims to be baseball’s premier collection of talent. Savage, by this point friend and advisor to many of these parties, suggested that a convention be held so that “factionalization be avoided, and the mutual gain of all, and of the game, become chief concern.”
 
NYC_1848.jpg
New York City as seen from Williamsburg, 1848. Brown, Eliphalet M., 1816-1886 -- Lithographer Foreman, Edgar W. -- Lithographer Category:New York
 
On March 9, 1848, representatives from five clubs met at the Lovejoy Hotel. There, they formed the National Association of Baseball Players, with the stated goals of standardizing the rules, promoting gentlemanly honor and good conduct, and growing the ranks of teams and participants. It was quite presumptuous of them to title the organization “National” when all teams hailed from Brooklyn or New York, but the attitude of New Yorkers on such subjects has been well documented! In fairness, they did represent the totality of baseball adherents in the entire world, so maybe the moniker they chose wasn’t a huge stretch. Their brief organizational bylaws did not include provisions for crowning a champion, but the clubs made separate arrangements on that point. The five charter members included the Good Intent Club, the Haymaker Club of Brooklyn, the Hussey Club of Brooklyn (named after team captain and catcher Clint Hussey), and the Nationals of New York, the latter three all formed with the intent of defeating the former. Also included was the Peconic Club of New York, in existence since 1846, but lacking the level of influence held by the other four teams.
 
Thus, in the spring of 1848, baseball took its first steps towards organization. It was not a league, or a governing body, but now, at least, there was a framework to which all future clubs could look.


#9

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1848
 
The provisions for crowning a champion agreed upon by the clubs of the NABP resembled a cross between modern professional sports playoffs and a title bout of boxing or mixed martial arts. The team in possession of the title would be obliged to accept challenges from other competitors. These tests would take the form of best of three series, home field alternating, with the champ hosting the opener and the rubber match, and the challenger the middle game. These championship “tests” could occur at any time during the season, and the team winning the most recent one at schedule’s end in the fall would be considered the season champion. 
 
The outcome of the first five months of the 1848 season would determine the first championship series contestants. The shuffling of the baseball landscape the preceding winter had produced very competitive results throughout the summer, but there was to be little controversy concerning the two participants in the inaugural competition. Good Intent of New York, despite all the efforts to dethrone them, and Haymaker of Brooklyn, with no man over the age of 22, both finished August with 7-5 records, tied for tops amongst the five NABP teams. Good Intent had taken 3 of 4 from Haymaker during the summer, but the Brooklynites won a coin flip and thus would host the first game, and the potential deciding game, at the Brooklyn Grounds.
 
 
 
 
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GAME RECAPS

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Good Intent continued their earlier dominance of the young Haymakers in Game 1. They scored 8 runs in the first frame and hardly looked back, going on to win by a one-sided 18-5 margin. Three New Yorkers scored three runs apiece. They played a fine game in the field too, and observers noted that the Haymaker youngsters left the game seeming to doubt their ability to defeat their more veteran opponents in two consecutive contests.
 
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For its first four innings, Game Two of the 1848 Series, resembled baseball of a much later era. The errors were few, and the score 3-2 in favor of the home New Yorkers. At last though, the bare hands of the Good Intent infield gave way. The Haymakers, perhaps for the first time sensing vulnerability in their foe, seized the day and scored in four straight innings to take the match 14-9. SS Norm Tyndall was especially opportunistic, he tripled three times, which was hailed in the papers as an “unprecedented feat”. The visiting side had taken the first two legs, but would home field play a factor in a Haymaker upset in the third and deciding match?
 
 
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Haymaker shocked the baseball community with a 16-5 dismantling of the New Yorkers. The young Brooklynites were led again by SS Tyndall who tripled twice in the deciding game. The combination of his bat and legs had served him well throughout the championship, as he took nineteen bases (total bases) according to the primitive statistics writer W.P. Savage compiled at the time. Savage's complete table:
 
1848 CHAMPIONSHIP BASEBALL TEST 
PLAYER TALLIES
 
(PLAYER, HIS POSITION, HITS, ACES)
 
HAYMAKER CLUB OF BKLYN (VICTORIOUS)
 
TUNSTALL HR     1       1
SULLINS  BD     4       3 
BULLOCK  1B     7       5
KESSLER  2B     1       5
HEATH    3B     2       5
TYNDALL  SS     8       6
POLAND   LS     2       2
WADE     CS     3       3
MCGOWAN  RS     4       3
 
GOOD INTENTS NEW YORK
 
LAVINE   HR     2       2
BARNHILL BD     2       2
MONTGOM. 1B     3       5
MANNS    2B     8       5
MEDELLIN 3B     4       2
WRIGHT   SS     2       7
HAYDEN   LS     4       4
STERN    CS     5       1
CULPEPR. RS     5       3
 

norm_tyndall_zpsac5c2d12.jpg

Norm Tyndall

 

The first championship series served as an early milestone in the game’s development. The interest it generated in the general public in New York and the surrounding area was unprecedented. Like their compatriots of later years, Americans of the antebellum were also inclined to appreciate the triumph of the underdog. If the tale was compelling to contemporary audiences, then the stage upon which it unfolded was one which they began to appreciate. Many would take to the green pastures of this American theater in the years ahead. The series also hinted at baseball’s evolution in the forthcoming decades. The overall storyline had been compelling, but the individual games had lacked much in the way of excitement, and frankly, skill. New players, rules, and innovations would change baseball in ways unimaginable at the time, but yet, all the change would owe something to those three Saturdays in September of 1848.


#10

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The Pete Jennings Affair
 
Baseball the sport surely benefited from the 1848 season, but the NABP, the organization, squandered the chance to grow almost immediately. The Jennings Affair was baseball’s first true scandal, and it rocked the budding sporting establishment in New York city prior to the 1849 season. For the first time, pay, an off the field issue, was to effect the on the field events. It was a different time, and the Jenkins Affair was a pay scandal of a different sort. Pete Jennings nearly destroyed the NABP because he did not want to be payed to play baseball.
 
Jennings was a fixture at those Saturday afternoon affairs in New York and Brooklyn. He’d played in the first game as a member of the Picked Nine, and in the years since, he’d become one of the unofficial founding fathers of the game. His notoriety stemmed not only from his dedication to the hobby, but his skill. Records indicate he was a superb batsman and infield captain. He’d never played with the same group of players or club two summers in a row, but his good play and social standing meant everyone wanted Pete Jennings play with them. Clint Hussey was even willing to pay Jennings under the table for his services.
 
Hussey was an egocentric 24 year old when he parlayed two years of successful play with the Peconic club into his own nine for the founding season of the NABP. The Hussey Club of Brooklyn was fairly successful in its first season, posting a 6-5 record in 1848, but Clint Hussey was not a man to be satisfied with third place. He vowed to do whatever it would take to win games in 1849. When the Good Intent club called it quits after their humbling in the championship series, Hussey sensed an opportunity. He’d corner the market on good players by discreetly paying them or by giving promising young players a job at his butcher’s shop. He’d finance the whole operation by moving his team’s games away from the Elysian Fields and to the Brooklyn Grounds, where he could charge admission. 
 
Hussey did not make it far in his enterprise. Like any good businessman, he set about locking down those assets already controlled. He was worried that the introduction of a financial aspect into the baseball circle would create a bidding war, and concerned that his star teammate Jennings’ penchant for floating from team to team would make him a hot commodity in such an event. Records are hard to come by, but apparently he made Jennings an offer to remain on the team for 1849. What Hussey did not anticipate was that Jennings was an entirely different sort of man than himself.
 
Aside from being a respected baseball player, Jennings was noteworthy in banking and church-going. He had no need for monetary compensation, and abhorred the thought of monetary gain from something as leisurely as baseball matches. He was not shy about reporting the offense upon his gentlemanly good nature to his like minded fellows at the NABP convention in January of 1849. 
 
The expose triggered an unexpected response. Several other players came forward and said that they received offers from both Hussey’s club and the champion Haymakers. They had been shamed into action by Jennings’ honorable disclosure. With everyone feeling downright rotten for trying to make a buck, and the good social standing of baseball players duly threatened, the way forward was clear. The Hussey club and the Haymaker club were blacklisted from NABP competition. Humiliated, both teams folded. 
 
The NABP rebranded itself the NAABP, the National Association of Amateur Baseball Players, and added an explicit clause to the rules of the game banning financial compensation:
 

Article VII. The offering or receipt of monetary compensation, be it direct or through some sort of indirect arrangement, is antithetical to the gentlemanly conduct of a baseball match and the baseball organization. No club offering such compensation will enjoy the competition provided by members of this Association or be recognized as an official club therein.

 
Article VII served the high minded motives of the NAABP, but it left the door open for future conflict. The market for high level baseball had been created in 1848, but the Jennings’ Affair left that potential untapped. Some men, like Hussey, (who, for lack of central authority in the NAABP, was not banned himself) had begun to recognize that. Not all, or even most, of the players to come would be of the financial and ethical means of Pete Jennings. The debate about professional baseball was only beginning. 
 

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clint_hussey_zpscb9e86f4.jpg

 

T: Pete Jennings, B: Clint Hussey



#11

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Collegiate Baseball
 
The outward perception of baseball as a genteel and amateur pastime had positive and negative consequences. The effects on the quality of play in and on the organizational strength of the NAABP were apparent. Amateurism meant that the Association did not prosper directly, but the positive social results of baseball’s good public image provided indirect benefits. Baseball was becoming more mainstream. The first game outside of the New York/Brooklyn area was in Albany in 1852. Baltimore and Philadelphia had fielded association teams in 1855. Both areas, bastions of cricket for several decades, along with Boston, a town ball (or Massachusetts Game) hotbed, would begin to hold the new sport high during the 1850’s. The spread of the game wasn’t just geographical either. Women and freemen began organizing their own teams as well (though the unfortunate prejudices of the day kept these teams out of the Association). Indoor baseball was even an occasional spectacle during the winter months. The single most important place the burgeoning game sprang up, however, was on college campuses. 
 
The image of baseball as a virtuous pastime, a wholesome and decidedly American affair, meant that the University administrators of the day were not hostile to their students forming clubs. Sports had always been had a presence on the privileged campuses of the 19th century, and the significantly lower physical risk of baseball made it an easy choice compared to primitive football contests.  Some schools went so far as to give official endorsement to student manned nines, which allowed them to represent the school directly. Athletic scholarships were still light years away, but baseball does have the distinction of being one of the first sports sponsored by American colleges. 
 
The first college baseball game is lost to history. Teams representing or claiming to represent schools had met before 1856, but their legitimacy and the legitimacy of the rules they used is debatable. This much is certain; that in 1856 five of the leading schools in embracing baseball agreed to a semi-formal arrangement. The University of Michigan, Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, Wesleyan College of Middletown, CT, and, notably, the United States Naval Academy, played a round-robin schedule that spring.
 
Public acclaim for the 1856 college season was widespread. The results of the college tilts would have been at least as widely disbursed as NAABP games, had the season stretched past the end of the spring semester. Nevertheless, the May 3 matchup between Michigan and Penn was still billed as the “Game of the Year”. The Wolverines outlasted a furious Quaker comeback 11-9. Both Michigan and Penn would finish 1856 at 3-1. 
 
For all the public goodwill and idyllic talk, a 22nd century examination of that historic college season reveals that the pay for play issue was creeping back into the game. Take Michigan catcher Ed Eberle. After the college season concluded, Eberle wound up on the roster of the NAABP’s Excelsior club in Baltimore. For a member of Michigan’s class of 1856 to pop up just a short few weeks later on the East Coast, presumably securely employed, makes little sense given the economics of the day. But, consider an arrangement whereby a player is given a job in exchange for his baseball services, and Eberle’s move makes a little more sense.





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