With baseball paying out bigger and bigger
salaries and the sport continuing to expand its global reach, it is
mind-boggling and consciousness-raising to flash back to its simpler
simple origins as a professional sport, a time of the
Cincinnati Red Stockings - baseball's first
Aaron B. Chapman organized the
team and looked upon it as a way to promote the city of Cincinnati, its
products and services. And Chapman looked upon Harry Wright as scout,
recruiter, player and manger - as a man to get a job done.
English-born former jeweler and
cricket player and a veteran of a decade of top-drawer baseball
Harry Wright was a strict disciplinarian and a shrewd promoter. He
his team was to wear bright red stockings to set off their white
and pants and dark Oxford shoes. The garb was a bit outlandish for the
but the outfit attracted attention and that was what Wright and Chapman
The Red Stockings were
referred to as a
"picked nine". That might have been an exaggeration, but it was a
nine picked by Harry Wright.
The only native of
Cincinnati on the team
was first baseman Charlie Gould, nicknamed the "bushel basket"
because of his ability to snare baseballs. Other members of the team
Wright’s brother George (a star shortstop), who batted .518, drive in
and hit 54 home runs in 1869; third baseman Fred Waterman; second
Sweasy; outfielders Asa Brainard, Dave Birdsall and Andy Leonard;
Allison and pitcher Cal McVey. Harry Wright doubled as a relief pitcher
Dick Hurley functioned as a utility player.
Stockings were the first team
to travel across the United States with its
signed and bound to the club for an entire season. Salaries for the
covered the period from March to November and ranged from $800 to a
$1,400 for George Wright. The lone sub picked up $600. The total
that historic 1869 season was $9,300.
Northeast and West, traveling 11,000 miles thanks to the new
railroad, the Red Stockings won all 69 of their games. They were
a private audience in Washington as President Ulysses S. Grant
what he called "the western Cinderella club" for its skills and
Although the Red Stockings helped
business wherever they played and their fame increased each day, the
profit for 1869 was a miniscule $1.39 after all salaries and expenses
In 1870, the Red Stockings
winning streak to 130 games until the Brooklyn Atlantics broke it.
The team's impact was not
for one season,
or for two campaigns, but rather for all time. Baseball as a
was now underway. The success of the Red Stockings made it sunset time
amateur in baseball and dawn for professionalism.
of the most
prolific and respected sports journalists and oral historians in the
States, author of the autobiographies of legends Nolan Ryan, Tony
Red Holzman, Dr. Harvey Frommer is an expert on the New York Yankees
arguably written more books, articles and reviews on the New York
more than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth College, Frommer
dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni magazine. He’s also
founder of www.HarveyFrommerSports.com
where books he has written can be purchased.