James Billings

This article was written by Charlie Bevis

JB Billings (BOSTON GLOBE)For nearly three decades from 1876 to 1904, J.B. Billings was part-owner and treasurer of the Boston baseball club in the National League. In addition to overseeing the club’s financial affairs, he handled most of the contract negotiation and communication with the ballplayers. Billings was most famous for paying $10,000 to the Chicago ballclub in 1887 to release star player Mike Kelly so that Billings could sign Kelly to a contract to play for Boston.

James Bartlett Billings was born on February 21, 1837, in Lowell, Massachusetts, the oldest of three children of John and Adeline Billings.1 His mother died in 1848, and several months later his father married Elizabeth Fifield, who became stepmother to Billings and his two sisters.2 In the textile-dominated economy of Lowell, his father worked for a variety of businesses as a clerk, an apprentice businessman in the parlance of that era. By 1847 his father was the proprietor of his own business, a livery stable, which he soon expanded into an express company that shipped goods via the Boston & Lowell Railroad.3 Billings witnessed the ups and downs of business ownership, as his father’s enterprise failed by 1853 and he returned to being an employee for other business owners.4

Following in the business footsteps of his father, 18-year-old Billings worked as a clerk at the Franklin Bookstore in Lowell.5 In 1856 he moved to Boston, where he worked as a bookkeeper for shoe companies with offices in the central business district.6 He married Maria Braman on October 27, 1860, in nearby Cambridge.7 They had one child, George B. Billings, born in 1864.8 After seeing demand for footwear soar during the Civil War, Billings ventured out on his own in 1863 to start his own shoe company, Billings & Baldwin, in partnership with David Baldwin.9

In 1864 Billings dissolved the partnership with Baldwin and formed a new partnership with George B. Clapp.10 For the next 17 years they operated Clapp & Billings, a shoe manufacturer with its main office in Boston and factories located in the outlying towns of Marlborough and Rockland.11 The 1864 formation of Clapp & Billings was very timely. The demand for mass-produced footwear accelerated after the Civil War, which led to the movement to replace the disjointed system of small shops, staffed by artisans who made shoes by hand, with the centralized factory system in which industrial machines, manned by less-skilled workers, did the bulk of the work to build shoes.12 Clapp & Billings took advantage of the first mechanical advancement in the nascent shoe industry, the McKay sole-sewing machine, which “did in one hour what a journeyman [shoemaker] did in 80 hours.”13 Billings and Clapp were soon rich men.

By 1870 Billings almost universally went by the initials “J.B.” rather than his given name James, to signify that he was a prosperous businessman. He also moved his family into a home at 19 Hancock Street in the fashionable Beacon Hill neighborhood, where wealthy men typically resided in Boston.14 After his successful investment in the emerging shoe industry, Billings became an investor in professional baseball. By 1876 he had purchased several shares of stock in the Boston Base Ball Association, the formal name of the corporation that operated the Boston ballclub.15 It was a good time to invest in baseball, since share prices were depressed. Similar to the shoe industry a decade earlier, professional baseball in the nascent National League of 1876 faced an uncertain environment as control was shifting from ballplayers to club ownership. Billings believed “that a baseball investment would prove profitable” if the ballclub could be operated with sound business practices.16

As a member of an ad hoc committee of stockholders in December 1876, Billings participated in an audit of the Boston ballclub’s financial situation.17 The dismal fiscal performance during the 1876 season resulted in the dismissal of club President Nicholas Apollonio and the subsequent election of Arthur Soden, who went on to serve as president for three decades. Billings was also a member of an audit committee to review the financials of the 1877 season.18

In 1880 the Clapp & Billings partnership was dissolved, with “both men going out of business with handsome fortunes” after selling the Rockland factory.19 While Clapp retired to a life of leisure, Billings remained in the shoe business by continuing to operate the Marlborough factory.20 Billings soon purchased an opulent brownstone home at 362 Marlborough Street in the elite Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, which had recently been created via landfill of the Charles River tidal basin to be the nouveau place for wealthy Bostonians to reside.21

Billings now decided to devote more time to the business affairs of the Boston ballclub, where his financial skills and shoe-industry experience with industrialized labor could enhance the value of his investment in the ballclub. Over the four-year period from 1881 to 1884, Billings gradually changed from a passive investor in the Boston ballclub to an active management role, as the ownership structure evolved to consolidate power for the 1885 baseball season into the hands of three individuals: Soden, Billings, and Bill Conant.

At the annual stockholder meeting in December 1880, Billings was elected to be one of three new directors for the 1881 baseball season, as there was a wholesale shakeup of the five-man board, with Soden and Allan J. Chase the only holdovers.22 One casualty was Fred Long, who was replaced as treasurer by Chase. Billings exerted his influence to limit the ballclub’s disclosure of financial information. The last public disclosure of the club’s profitability occurred at the December 1881 stockholder meeting.23 Only gate-receipt information was provided at the December 1882 stockholder meeting.24

Between 1880 and 1883, Billings increased his stock holdings in the ballclub through purchases from men who held just one or two shares, which he bought at low prices since there was little demand for these shares. He did so in concert with Soden, as the two men “set about securing a controlling interest in the club.”25 Conant, who was elected a director for the 1882 season, accumulated stock on his own.

By the time of the annual stockholder meeting in December 1883, Billings was one of a four-man combine that controlled a majority of the shares of stock, along with Soden, Conant, and an unidentified man, who most likely was Chase.26 No financial information at all was released at the 1883 meeting. “A call was made for the report of the treasurer, but, as attested by the certificate of a physician, that gentleman was sick,” the New York Clipper reported on the absence of Chase, adding that “four gentlemen control the stock, and it is their desire to keep the financial condition secret.”27

During 1884 the fourth man in the 1883 majority combine sold out to the threesome of Billings, Soden, and Conant to effectuate their takeover of the Boston ballclub. The final straw was no doubt the squabble over pricing of season tickets, as pressure increased for business practices to trump caring for dedicated fans (who paid higher prices) and minority stockholders (who no longer received them free).28 There is no public indication what Billings and his two compatriots promised the fourth stockholder of the combine (likely Chase), but he probably was handsomely rewarded for selling, since it allowed the threesome to control all decisions related to the ballclub.29

By the December 1884 stockholder meeting, the trio of Billings, Soden, and Conant collectively controlled the majority of stock and thus rendered the minority stockholders powerless to stop the trio from executing their ideas.30 They elected themselves to be the only officers of the ballclub, as Billings became treasurer to replace Chase, and downsized the directorate from five members to just the three officers. The new three-man board of directors immediately approved a $2,500 stipend for each officer and authorized the spending of up to $100,000 to purchase the land underneath the South End Grounds.31

The trio of Billings, Soden, and Conant became known as the triumvirs, the Roman Empire terminology for members of a three-man authority that shared power. Each of the three triumvirs owned roughly one-third of the ballclub.32 However, when it came to big decisions, not even Soden as president had unilateral authority, since “the triumvirs have an iron-clad rule that when two of the trio agree that settles any question under discussion.”33 In one example from 1889, reportedly “Soden actually shed tears when the other two, Billings and Conant, outvoted him and released [John] Morrill,” who was the longtime field manager of the team.34

As the treasurer, Billings handled the finances of the ballclub. One of the first big expenditures he faced was how to pay the $100,000 to purchase the land underneath the South End Grounds. The decision was to pay $35,000 in cash and borrow the remaining $65,000 through a mortgage on the property.35 This was one of the last numbers publicly revealed from the ballclub’s financial ledgers, since Billings strongly believed the finances of the ballclub should remain private. “We don’t want the affairs of the association spread before the world. That would not be a business way of doing things,” Billings told the Boston Globe in 1887. “The financial standing of a concern is its own business and not for the public.”36 Billings didn’t bother to attend the annual stockholder meetings until the last public one in 1887, when they were discontinued after a judge dismissed the minority-stockholder suit to obtain an accounting.37

Billings, though, was not bashful about spending money in his early years as treasurer, when he would often open up his “famous checkbook,” as the sportswriters termed his spending habit. “Landing big stars was fun for J.B. Billings a few years ago when he roamed the country loaded with his famous checkbook,” Tim Murnane reminisced in 1905. “Mr. Billings loved a winner and was willing to pay the price.”38 Today, his business perspective would be called the need to spend money to make money.

The first exorbitant use of the famous checkbook came in February 1887 when Billings instigated the acquisition from the Chicago club of Mike Kelly, who was one of baseball’s most talented players of that era. “When I went to see Soden and Conant and told them about [the idea], it seemed like a good joke to them, for they rather laughed at it. They didn’t believe anybody could get Kelly away from Chicago,” Billings told the Boston Globe.39 It took $10,000 to convince Chicago to release Kelly. After arriving at a mutually agreeable salary with Kelly, Billings said, “Good things come high, but we must have them.”40

The $10,000 investment to acquire Kelly was initially successful, as attendance at the South End Grounds nearly doubled to more than a quarter of a million spectators during the 1887 season. When the triumvirs decided to build an opulent new grandstand to attract even more paying customers, Billings faced his next big financial challenge as treasurer, when the actual construction costs nearly tripled the $25,000 initial projected cost.41 The solution advocated by Billings was to spend even more money by purchasing another star ballplayer to make sure the new grandstand was filled for all games. In April 1888 Billings paid another $10,000 to the Chicago ballclub to secure the release of pitcher John Clarkson.42

In his quest to sign star players from other teams, Billings operated more like a general manager in the modern-day free-agent era than the prevailing nineteenth-century model of owner-operator who searched for promising young talent.43 Technically, Billings did sign free agents, most often by paying a steep price to a club owner to release the desired player (not directly overpaying the player as done today) and a few times on the open market when players were freely available after a team disbanded. As for grooming younger talent, Billings said in 1887: “This raising of colts is an expensive business. I prefer to buy them all ready for the track.”44

Billings also negotiated the salaries of existing ballplayers to play with Boston the following season. He had his strongest relationships with the players during the 1880s. “The players on the nine all like him,” the Boston Globe wrote about Billings in 1888, “but I do hear it rumored occasionally that they love to visit him for the purpose of getting his autograph to a little check.”45 However, there was no doubt that “the signing of the star players is now left almost wholly in his hands.”46

Despite the good intentions of Billings, the $20,000 spent to acquire Kelly and Clarkson failed to generate a championship for Boston in either 1888 or 1889. Even worse, attendance did not increase at the ballpark in those two years. “Treasurer Billings was found seated in his office with a friend. The reflex of the year could be seen easily. Straws best show how the wind blows,” the Boston Globe reported in July 1888. “The $20,000 bid for players, the $70,000 [grand] stand, the bad ball playing and diminished gate receipts could all be seen in the cigar which the genial holder of the finances was smoking. It was supported by a toothpick to insure its being burned to the last shred.”47 Frustrations exploded during the 1889 season, when Billings, disgusted at a string of losses on the road, dashed off a telegram to the club’s field manager: “You are disgracing Boston. You are being hissed in Music Hall [at the telegraphic recreation of games]. … Your work is costing us thousands of dollars.”48 The demoralization that this telegram caused among the ballplayers cost the team the pennant, as they finished one game behind the champion New York Giants.

The timing of this telegram could not have been worse, since, unbeknownst to the triumvirs, most of their ballplayers were contemplating leaving the team to play in 1890 for the Boston team in the new Players’ League. Billings could not hold the team together after the 1889 season, as most of the players bolted to the Players’ League team. After publicly failing to induce several players “to bid goodbye to the brotherhood and return to their old love,” Billings could only convince two players to stay, Clarkson and catcher Charlie Bennett.49 To bail out Billings, the other triumvirs brought in Frank Selee to be the manager of the team for 1890. Selee rebuilt the team with replacement players (including Kid Nichols) whom he had observed when he was a minor-league manager. While the Players’ League disbanded after just one season, its Boston team transferred to the American Association for the 1891 season, before going out of business when that league merged into the National League for the 1892 season.

The two years of intense competition for baseball fans in Boston severely impacted the finances of the National League ballclub. The free-spending Billings lost the confidence of his fellow triumvirs as Selee used the cheaper, younger players to win three consecutive National League championships from 1891 to 1893. Billings maintained a low public profile, as his son, George, now handled many of the lower-level financial tasks, such as distributing paychecks to the ballplayers.50 Billings also needed to devote much more of his time to his shoe business, which began a downturn in 1891 and struggled in 1893 due to the national economic depression.

In March 1894 Billings went bankrupt when his shoe business failed due to “poor collections, losses in the manufacturing department and shrinkage in profits during the past three years.”51 The company’s $99,000 in liabilities greatly exceeded its $66,000 in assets and “there appears to be no equity in the debtor’s residence nor in his baseball stock.”52 Billings had no equity in his Marlborough Street home because he had sold it to Soden for $25,000 in June 1893 to raise money to keep his business afloat.53 Hoping to be repaid with a business upturn, Soden did not register the deed until four days before the public announcement of the business failure.54 Billings had no equity in his baseball stock because he had used it as collateral for a loan made by Soden and Conant to provide additional funds to try to salvage his shoe business.55 The business failure was quickly settled, as the creditors accepted 55 cents on the dollar.56 Billings was now a minority owner of the Boston ballclub, since “instead of owning an equal portion of the stock, he now owns only one share, enough to entitle him to hold the office of treasurer.”57

Although Soden now owned the house at 362 Marlborough Street, Billings and his wife continued to live there until Soden sold the property in July 1897.58 This timing correlates with when Billings paid off his remaining debt to Soden and Conant, since Billings had borrowed more money from them to try to save his shoe business than the value of his loan collateral, his stock in the ballclub. Billings worked as the treasurer for the ballclub to repay this debt, when in 1897 “the profits of the club have been so great that Billings was able to pay back all he owed.”59

As a minority owner, Billings was still considered a triumvir, but he now had little influence in the future direction of the Boston ballclub. The triumvirs kept their 2-out-of-3-votes rule for business decisions, to access the knowledge and opinion of Billings, but in practice Soden and Conant functioned as a veto-proof, two-man alliance. In general during the 1890s, the ballclub pursued a policy of fiscal restraint, with no more big-money player acquisitions like the ones Billings had engineered in the 1880s. He did do some bird-dogging for young players, but his larger role with the triumvirs was to vet manager Selee’s proposed player signings, such as third baseman Jimmy Collins in the fall of 1894.

Billings continued to add value to the ballclub through his relationships with the ballplayers. For example, “Director J.B. Billings made an effort to convince Tommy Tucker that his work was appreciated by the owners of the club,” when the first baseman had complained to sportswriters about club management.60 However, there was little for Billings to do in salary negotiations, since many Boston players made the $2,400 salary limit that the National League strictly enforced during the 1890s. His treasurer responsibilities were also diminished, since William Rogers was brought in as assistant treasurer in the mid-1890s.61

When Billings was now mentioned in the sports pages, it often was about his reaction to the outcome of a game, such as “Director Billings was the most disappointed man in town last night, and what he thought would not look well in print.”62 In contrast to his fellow triumvirs, Billings faithfully attended most games at the South End Grounds and he often attended the telegraphic recreation of road games at the Music Hall.63 However, Billings maintained such a low profile after his 1894 bankruptcy that George Tuohey, in his 1897 book about the Boston ballclub, wrote just a five-line biography of Billings, which was one-tenth the size of the biography of the club’s groundskeeper.64

After Boston won consecutive pennants in 1897 and 1898 with the low-budget approach, Soden and Conant quashed all proposals by Billings to bring in big stars as a money-making opportunity. “Mr. Billings is in favor of putting out good money for one or more catchers,” one writer noted in 1899, adding that Billings believed “it pays to have one or two stars each season.”65 Reflecting the waning influence of Billings, however, Selee “found Messrs. Soden and Conant in no hurry about going after star players … [since] the triumvirs, with the exception of director Billings, are for taking plenty of time.”66

The beginning of the end for Billings was the botched salary negotiation with Jimmy Collins for the 1901 season. When he learned that Collins was rumored to be jumping to the Boston team in the new American League, Billings traveled to Buffalo, New York, to meet with Collins at his home. Billings was said to have offered Collins a $5,000 annual salary (twice his pay in 1900), but he wasted his time, because he misjudged why Collins was considering an American League offer. Collins signed a three-year guaranteed contract with an annual salary of $3,500 to be not only the third baseman but also field manager and part-owner (with a few shares of stock in the club), with no ties to the team following the third year.67 Billings and the triumvirs completely misjudged the leadership potential of Collins (they passed him over as team captain for 1901) as well as the impact Collins would have with the American League team, which immediately captured the allegiance of most Boston baseball fans.

After the phenomenal success of the Boston Americans in 1901, Soden began to actively search for a buyer of the stock in the Boston ballclub.68 Since most of the value of the stock in the ballclub was in the real estate it owned, Soden transferred ownership of the South End Grounds in 1902 to the Columbus Avenue Trust, whose trustees were Charles Soden, George Billings, and Conant.69 In this manner Soden sought to maximize the value of the baseball team and its franchise in the National League, which were now the only items tied to the shares of stock in the ballclub. Secondarily, this transaction effectively transferred the ballpark asset to the next generation of two of the three triumvirs. Although no longer a significant stockholder in the ballclub, Billings was compensated for a share of the ownership of the South End Grounds, since his son was a trustee of the Columbus Avenue Trust.70

In 1904, when no realistic buyer for the ballclub surfaced, Soden forced Billings out of the ownership group, presumably by purchasing his one remaining share of stock.71 Initially, there was no official announcement of his “retirement,” just the conspicuous absence of his signature on the paychecks of the ballplayers. Only when Billings failed to attend the game on July 5 was there an official announcement that Soden would now be treasurer.

When the ballclub was finally sold in November 1906, Billings received nothing from the $75,000 payment by the Dovey brothers to acquire its stock; his son George did benefit from this sale, through the $200,000 mortgage that the Columbus Avenue Trust granted to the Dovey brothers when they acquired the South End Grounds in a no-cash transaction.72 With the club under new ownership, the National League granted an honorary life membership to both Soden and Conant, but not to Billings, whom the League did not consider to be one of the owners at the time of the sale.73

Billings and his wife spent their retirement years living with their son George and his family in George’s house in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston.74 Billings died there on March 15, 1913, and is buried at the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.75



1 “Death Takes J.B. Billings,” Boston Globe, March 16, 1913: 14. No birth record can be located for Billings. His birth was not recorded in Vital Records of Lowell, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849 (Salem, Massachusetts: Essex Institute, 1930).

2 Death records for Lowell in 1848 in the Massachusetts State Archives (Volume 38, Page 62); marriage records for Lowell in 1848 in the Massachusetts State Archives (Volume 38, Page 51).

3 Lowell City Directory, 1847: 65 and 1851: 27; federal census records for 1850 for John Billings, Lowell, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

4 Lowell City Directory, 1853: 53, 1855: 32, and 1859: 42.

5 Lowell City Directory, 1855: 32.

6 Boston City Directory, 1856: 37, 1860: 51, and 1862: 42.

7 Marriage records for Cambridge in 1864 in the Massachusetts State Archives (Volume 136, Page 56).

8 “George B. Billings Dies at Home Here,” Boston Globe, January 29, 1935: 19.

9 Boston City Directory, 1864: 39.

10 “Business Changes,” Boston Daily Advertiser, May 30, 1864: 1; Boston City Directory, 1865: 39.

11 Obituary of George B. Clapp, Boot and Shoe Recorder, November 28, 1894: 69; John Galluzzo and Donald Cann, Rockland Through Time (Charleston, South Carolina: Fonthill Media, 2014), 3, 74-75; Susan Alatalo, Marlborough (Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia, 2003), 7, 54-56.

12 Mary Blewett, Men, Women, and Work: Class, Gender, and Protest in the New England Shoe Industry, 1780-1910 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 146-147; John Commons, “American Shoeworkers, 1648-1895: A Sketch of Industrial Evolution,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, November 1909: 64.

13 Commons, “American Shoeworkers”: 73.

14 Boston City Directory, 1870: 91.

15 “The Boston Base Ball Association,” Boston Globe, December 8, 1876: 5.

16 George Tuohey, A History of the Boston Base Ball Club (Boston: M.F. Quinn, 1897), 176.

17 “The Boston Base Ball Association,” Boston Globe, December 8, 1876: 5.

18 “Base Ball,” Boston Globe, January 7, 1878: 8.

19 Obituary of George B. Clapp, Boot and Shoe Recorder, November 28, 1894: 69.

20 Marlborough Directory, 1885: 22 and 1887: 31.

21 Suffolk County Registry of Deeds, Book 1596, Page 323, cited in “362 Marlborough,” Back Bay Houses, website providing genealogies of houses sponsored by Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, accessed February 11, 2017, backbayhouses.org.

22 “Sporting News,” Boston Globe, December 16, 1880: 1; “The Boston Baseball Association,” New York Clipper, December 25, 1880: 317.

23 “Boston Base Ball Association,” Boston Globe, December 22, 1881: 6; “The Annual Meeting,” New York Clipper, December 31, 1881: 676.

24 “The Boston Club,” New York Clipper, December 30, 1882: 661.

25 Tuohey, A History of the Boston Base Ball Club, 174.

26 “The Annual Meeting of the Boston Base Ball Association,” Boston Globe, December 20, 1883: 2.

27 “Boston Baseball Gossip,” New York Clipper, December 29, 1883: 693.

28 “The Boston Association and the Sale of Season Tickets,” Boston Globe, February 17, 1884: 6; “The Base Ball Season Ticket Scheme Modified,” Boston Globe, March 12, 1884: 4.

29 Silence was likely also part of the deal. No newspaper account can be located about Chase discussing his four years as ballclub treasurer, let alone the takeover of the ballclub by the triumvirs. At his death in 1933, Chase’s obituary noted only that “Mr. Chase had been an ardent devotee of baseball.” (“Allan J. Chase,” Cambridge Chronicle, December 15, 1933: 6).

30 “Boston’s Baseball Club,” New York Times, December 18, 1884: 3; “Boston Base Ball Association,” Boston Globe, evening edition, December 17, 1884: 1; “From the Hub,” New York Clipper, December 27, 1884: 651.

31 Ibid.

32 A shareholder accounting published in 1887 indicated that Billings and Conant each owned 23 shares and Soden owned 22 shares, out of 78 total shares (“Again the Triumvirs,” Boston Globe, December 22, 1887: 8).

33 “One Team Enough,” Boston Globe, December 12, 1887: 8.

34 “What Is It?” Boston Globe, August 10, 1902: 33.

35 “Diamond Dust,” Boston Globe, February 8, 1885: 6.

36 “Against the Triumvirs,” Boston Globe, November 13, 1887: 3.

37 “Again the Triumvirs,” Boston Globe, December 22, 1887: 8.

38 “Murnane’s Baseball,” Boston Globe, October 29, 1905: 36.

39 “Kelly, the King, Coming to Boston to Play Ball This Season,” Boston Globe, February 15, 1887: 1.

40 Ibid.

41 “Diamond Points,” Boston Globe, August 19, 1887: 8; “New Players Needed,” Boston Globe, December 14, 1887: 9.

42 “He Is Ours; Pitcher John Clarkson Signs with Boston,” Boston Globe, April 4, 1888: 1.

43 Mark Armour and Daniel Levitt, In Pursuit of Pennants: Baseball Operations from Deadball to Moneyball (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2015), 3-14, 279-280, 389-390.

44 “One Team Enough,” Boston Globe, December 12, 1887: 8.

45 “Soden, Billings and Conant Working for Players,” Boston Globe, April 1, 1888: 6.

46 “Triumvirs Are Hustling,” Boston Globe, January 15, 1890: 8.

47 “Will Talk It Over,” Boston Globe, July 26, 1888: 5.

48 “The Billings Telegrams,” Boston Globe, August 10, 1889: 5.

49 “Triumvirs Are Hustling,” Boston Globe, January 15, 1890: 8.

50 “Joy Turned to Grief,” Boston Globe, April 23, 1892: 5; “Col. George Billings Well Known to the Ball Tossers,” Boston Globe, December 10, 1893: 9.

51 “Business Embarrassments,” Boston Daily Advertiser, March 9, 1894: 8.

52 “Business Failures,” Boston Globe, March 22, 1894: 7.

53 “Real Estate,” Boston Globe, March 11, 1894: 12.

54 Suffolk County Registry of Deeds, Book 2183, Page 569, cited in “362 Marlborough.”

55 “Treasurer Billings Fails in Business,” The Sporting News, March 17, 1894: 1.

56 “Accepted 55 Percent,” Boston Globe, April 1, 1894: 23.

57 “Broken at Last: The Famous Boston Triumvirate Now Dissolved,” Sporting Life, March 17, 1894: 4.

58 Suffolk County Registry of Deeds, Book 2453, Page 228, cited in “362 Marlborough.”

59 “Is a Klondike: Boston’s Triumvirs’ Profits in 1897 $125,000,” The Sporting News, February 26, 1898: 5. Apparently by 1894 the triumvirs were distributing the ballclub profits to themselves, rather than let them accumulate in the treasury, as was the original 1885 arrangement.

60 “Look Well and Strong,” Boston Globe, April 3, 1894: 5.

61 “William Rogers Passes Away in New York,” Boston Globe, April 22, 1905: 8.

62 “Baseball Notes,” Boston Globe, September 29, 1895: 5.

63 “Hub Happenings,” Sporting Life, July 17, 1897: 10.

64 Tuohey, A History of the Boston Base Ball Club, 175.

65 “League Magnates,” Boston Globe, February 26, 1899: 29.

66 “Not Very Bright,” Boston Globe, January 14, 1900: 21.

67 Charlie Bevis, Jimmy Collins: A Baseball Biography (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2012), 85-86.

68 “Soden Ready to Sell Out,” Boston Globe, January 11, 1902: 1; “Boston Club For Sale,” New York Times, January 12, 1902: 10.

69 “Boston National Baseball Grounds Transferred,” Boston Globe, April 8, 1902: 11; “Ball Ground Transfer,” Boston Post, April 8, 1902: 3; “Realty of Boston National Club Valued at $205,000,” Boston Globe, April 22, 1905: 3.

70 The percentage of ownership in the South End Grounds that was allocated to Billings was not publicly reported.

71 “Triumvirate Broken: Director J.B. Billings of Boston Club Out,” Boston Globe, July 7, 1904: 7.

72 “Deal for Boston National League Club Completed,” Boston Globe, November 29, 1906: 9.

73 “Honored by League: Diplomas Presented Messrs Soden and Conant,” Boston Globe, August 21, 1907: 9.

74 Federal census records for 1910 for 22 Burroughs Street, Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts.

75 Death records for Boston, Massachusetts, in 1913, page 461. Mount Auburn Cemetery records show Billings is buried on Eagle Avenue, Lot 5861.

Full Name

James Bartlett Billings


February 21, 1837 at Lowell, MA (US)


March 15, 1913 at Boston, MA (US)

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