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Old Apr 12th 2007, 7:53 am
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ChinMusic22 ChinMusic22 is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2006
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Player Bio, April 12th: Albert Spalding

One of the founders, and an asset to help develop to what the game is today... He wasn't inducted as a player, but what he did for the game, and the Chicago franchise makes him a Cub...

Al Spalding
Albert Goodwill Spalding

Born: September 2, 1850, in Byron, Illinois
Died: September 9, 1915, in San Diego, California
Elected to Hall of Fame by Veterans Committee in 1939, Executive/Pioneer

ML Debut: 5/5/1871

Played For: Boston Red Stockings (1871-1875), Chicago White Stockings (1876-1877)

Managed: Chicago White Stockings (1876-1877)

A.G. Spalding was the premier pitcher of the 1870s and an organizational genius during baseball's formative years. He led the league in pitching victories in each of his six full seasons in Organized baseball (1871 to 1876). His 47 victories led the '76 Chicago White Stockings to the first-ever National League championship. With the success of the sporting goods business he founded in 1876, Spalding left the playing field for an executive role with the White Stockings; as team president from 1882 to 1891, he directed the club to three pennants.

Having played baseball throughout his youth, Spalding first played competitively with the Rockford Pioneers, a youth team, whom he joined in 1865. After pitching his team to a 26-2 victory over a local men's amateur team (the Mercantiles), he was approached by another, the Forest Citys, for whom he played for two years. In the autumn of 1867 he accepted a $40 per week contract, nominally as a clerk, but really to play professionally for the Chicago Excelsiors, a not uncommon arrangement contrary to the rules of the time. Following the formation of the National Association, baseball's first professional league, in 1871, Spalding joined the Boston Red Stockings (precursor club to the modern Atlanta Braves) and was highly successful; winning 205 games (and losing only 53) as a pitcher and batting .323 as a hitter. Spalding did not like the way the game was playing in the NA, so he decided to create another league. During the 1875 season, he secretly signed a contract that had him playing for the Chicago White Stockings(now known as the Chicago Cubs). At the same time he coaxed fellow players Deacon White, Ross Barnes and Cal McVey, as well as Cap Anson(while the first three were teammates of Spalding, Anson was from the Philidephia Athletics of the NA). Just after this had all occurred, the plan became public. Due to Spalding signing with the White Stockings, he effectively ended the NA. Meanwhile, he and his brother began a sporting goods store in Chicago. After the NA folded, he joined the Chicago White Stockings of the newly formed National League in 1876, winning 47 games as the club captured the league's inaugural pennant. In 1877, Spalding began to use a glove to protect his hands. People had used gloves previously, but never had a star like Spalding.

Spalding published the first official rules guide for baseball. In it he stated that only Spalding balls could be used(previously, the quality of the balls used had been subpar.) Spalding also founded the Baseball Guide, which at the time was the most widely read baseball publication. Spalding retired from playing baseball in 1878, although he continued as a major force as owner of the White Stockings and major influence on the National League.

In 1888-1889, Spalding took a group of major league players around the world to promote baseball and Spalding sporting goods. Playing across the western U.S., the tour made stops in Hawaii (although no game was played), New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon, Egypt, Italy, France, and England. The tour returned to grand receptions in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. The tour included future Hall of Famers Adrian "Cap" Anson and John Montgomery Ward. While the players were on the tour, the National League instituted new rules regarding player pay that led to a revolt of players, led by Ward, who started the Player's League the following season (1890). The league lasted one year, partially due to the competitive tactics of Spalding to limit its success.

Spalding's store grew rapidly over the next 25 years, with 14 stores by 1901, expanded from retail into manufacturing baseball equipment and is still a going concern. In 1900 Spalding was appointed by President McKinley as the USA's Commissioner at that year's Summer Olympic Games. In 1905, after Henry Chadwick wrote an article saying that baseball grew from the British sports of cricket and rounders, Spalding called for a commission to find out the real source of baseball. The commission called for citizens who knew anything about the founding of baseball to send in letters. After 3 years of searching, on December 30, 1907, Spalding received a letter that (erroneously) declared baseball to be the invention of Abner Doubleday.

Receiving the archives of the late Henry Chadwick in 1908, Spalding combined these records with his own memories (and biases) to write America's National Game (published 1911) which, despite its flaws, was probably the first scholarly account of the history of baseball.

"His face is that of a Greek hero, his manner that of a Church of England Bishop. When I first talked with him he was a candidate for United States Senator from California and he is the father of the greatest sport the world has ever known."
— Edward Marshall, NY Times

Did You Know... that during the off-season of 1888-1889, A.G. Spalding staged the first baseball world tour, traveling to "exotic" locales such as Hawaii, Australia, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Italy, and Paris?
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