MYTH OF THE LONGEST HR
first time ever
MEMORIES / MEMORIES Part 2 BIG BILL
FEB: THE 95th ARTICLE FOR BASEBALL GURU
JOHN MONTGOMERY WARD AND THE ILL FATED PLAYERS LEAGUE
Roger Connor, Hardy Richardson, Silver King, Pete Browning, Mark Baldwin, and John Montgomery Ward are not names that jump out at us these days but in the 1890s they were among the best in the world of baseball.
Suppose nowadays you had Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee. Miguel Tejada, Robinson Cano, Roy Haliday all defecting and going on to a new league. Well in 189o the above happened and it was pretty much the fault of management and their high-handed dealings with the players.
Low pay, and the infamous Reserve Clause led the players to initially start a union of sorts, (the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players.)
Spearheaded by John Montgomery
Ward the union proved to be too weak to stand up against management and so
Ward decided on another tactic. He
conceived a new league to act as a job-action against the owners. His popularity
was such that he was able to recruit some of the best talent around in the
National League. Franchises were opened up in
The problems started right
away Although attendance was good, with the exception of
The season was a good one though. The Boston Reds ended up in first with the Brooklyn Ward Wonders in second 6 and a half games out. The Cleveland Infants (curious name for a baseball team, or for any team for that matter) ended up last 26 plus games out.
Some highlights during the one year the League lasted included Roger Connor leading the League with 14 homeruns, Hardy Richardson had 146 RBIs, Pete Browning was the batting leader wih a .373 BA, Mark Baldwin led all pitchers with 34 wins and had a league leading 211 strike outs, and Silver King was tops with a 2.69 ERA. He also had an eight inning nohitter.
An unusual statistic that season were seven triple plays that were turned over by various teams.
At the beginning of 1891 it was evident that most of the teams could no longer exist financially as franchises.
It was long forgotten, but in 1968 ML Commissioner William Eckhardt and his special committee ruled that the PLAYERS League should be recognized as a Major League and it has been accorded that position since then.