1872 Winter Meetings: Inconsistencies and Ineligibles

This article was written by Mark Pestana

This article was published in Baseball’s 19th Century Winter Meetings: 1857-1900

Baseball's 19th Century Winter Meetings: 1857-1900The last official game of the 1871 National Association season took place on Monday, October 30, at the Union Grounds in Brooklyn, New York. The Chicago White Stockings, temporary nomads since the destruction of their home park in the Great Chicago Fire three weeks earlier, were the nominal “home team” on the occasion, but it did nothing to help them stave off defeat, 4-1, at the hands of the Athletic club of Philadelphia. Fittingly, this final match also decided the 1871 championship — though it would be more than two weeks before that was made official.

The enthusiasm generated by the maiden season of the first organized professional league was tempered by the confusion resulting from haphazardly scheduled games and a near absence of administrative guidance. The league had no master schedule; teams arranged contests among themselves as time allowed and with very little concern for consistency.

Professional nines also played frequently against amateur and college nines. Those games, as well as exhibition or “scrub” games against their fellow pro teams, received the same press coverage as official championship contests, and one can imagine the difficulty faced by the average fan in sorting through the muddle. As the NA’s sophomore year loomed ahead, new means for coordinating match games, determining a champion, and ensuring that clubs met their commitments, especially in fulfilling their calendar of official league games, were sorely needed.

The November Meeting of the Professional Association

On Friday, November 3, 1871, a little less than eight months after the meeting at Collier’s tavern that gave birth to the National Association, delegates assembled at the Girard House in Philadelphia for the second major meeting of the league’s brief existence.

The following clubs were represented: Athletic of Philadelphia, by their president, James Kerns; Boston Red Stockings, by J.W. Adams; Cleveland Forest Citys, by F.H. Mason; Rockford Forest Citys, by A.H. Wright (proxy); Troy Haymakers, by Charles C. Clark; Kekionga of Fort Wayne, by Harry Wright (proxy); Olympic of Washington, by Nick Young, and National of Washington, also by Nick Young (proxy).

Kerns, who had been elected NA president at the March meeting, announced that the object of this meeting was “to perfect the organization of the Professional Association, and to enable the championship committee to arrive at a proper conclusion” in deciding the first NA pennant winner. He also stated that any matters requiring adjudication should be settled by the Judiciary Committee before the end of the ballplaying season.1

After confirmation of the previous meeting’s notes, Secretary Young read a letter dated October 31 from White Stockings secretary J.M. Thacher. Explaining that “business matters” prevented his attendance, Thacher asked that “action be taken relative to legalizing” Chicago’s November games. A 15-day extension was requested.2 Playing hopefully on the sympathies of his fellow baseball officials by calling up the specter of the late Great Fire, he concluded, “I hardly think there can be any objection to it under the existing unfortunate circumstances.”3 

The plea, however, failed to arouse sympathy. Mason of Cleveland noted that Chicago had three weeks between the fire and the season’s cutoff date (October 31) to schedule the necessary games. The fact was that the Chicagos played no games at all from September 30 to October 20. The delegates were unanimous in deciding to table the requested extension.

Clark of Troy next made a case for combating what he called “flagrant violations of the rules during the season,” referring to gambling at the ball grounds. The first object of the Association, he felt, should be “to see that none but gentlemanly and honorable players be engaged.” 

The matter of the constitution was taken up. Kerns said he had written to journalist Henry Chadwick for a copy of the previous constitution and bylaws but had not yet received them.4 On Mason’s motion, a special committee was created to deal with the creation of a constitution and bylaws, to which Kerns appointed Mason, Clark, and Adams.5 This committee would be instructed to report at the March convention in Cleveland.

The all-important question of the 1871 championship was discussed at length. The original precept had been that each club would play every other club in a best-three-of-five series, the champion being the team that won the most series. What sounded simple and forthright in theory turned out differently in practice. The inability of clubs to come to terms on scheduling a series, the fact that a single series could stretch out over three, four, or five months, the persistent interruptions by exhibition games with both amateur and pro clubs — these factors certainly clouded the championship question. The need to sift through potentially forfeited games — those with illegal players, or with clubs that did not play the full season — exacerbated the problem. Kerns made the sensible suggestion that, in the future, each club should play five games against every other club, that all five games should count, and that the whip pennant be awarded to the team winning the most games overall, rather than most series. The motion carried and the rules were so amended. But the championship decision would sit a little longer.

Issues with umpires were then discussed. Clark proposed that players on junior clubs should not be allowed to umpire professional matches, saying that they “lacked proper judgment” and that, inasmuch as they were usually looking for promotion to a senior club, the temptation to rule in favor of the local club would bias their calls. This was agreed to.

Kerns expressed his concern over umpires with questionable credentials — those who were not known very well, or who had perhaps come from long-defunct clubs; his desire was for a higher standard among umpires and he felt there should perhaps be punishment (e.g., forfeiture) for teams that trotted out subpar arbiters. No direct action was taken on Kerns’ suggestion, but it led to further discussion and then to these new procedures addressing scheduling and selection of umpires: 

  1. Five days’ notice must be given for the playing of a championship game.
  2. Answer to such notice must be given in 24 hours.
  3. A list of three names will be forwarded to the local (home) team.
  4. An umpire must then be selected from that list within 24 hours.

The Ineligibles: Hastings, Hall, and the Kekiongas

A weightier dilemma, one related intrinsically to the championship question, was what to do about games in which a team used a potentially ineligible player. Similarly, action was needed concerning games played by clubs that did not compete for the entire season.

Scott Hastings was a catcher and infielder with the strong Rockford Forest City nine in 1869 and 1870, playing alongside Al Spalding, Ross Barnes, and Bob Addy. In the offseason of 1870-1871, Hastings hired out with the Lone Star Club of New Orleans and played with that Southern nine through April 16, 1871. When spring and baseball came back to the North, Hastings rejoined the Forest Citys and on May 6 was in the Opening Day lineup as their center fielder.

Rule 5, Section 2, of the NA regulations mandated that a player could not have been a member of another club “for 60 days immediately prior to the match” in which he played with a new club. Under this rule, Hastings should not have been eligible to play with the Forest Citys until June 16. Rockford, with Hastings in the lineup, won four games between May 6 and June 15. Those games were consequently protested by the losing teams.

Hastings’ defense was that he was not under formal contract with the Lone Stars during the offseason, and his move back to the Forest Citys was simply a return to his home club, not a breaking of commitment to another team; if anything, his presence with the New Orleans nine was illegal, as he was contracted to Rockford all along. He may have had a point, but the delegates were looking at the letter, rather than the spirit, of the law. They voted to reverse Rockford’s pre-June 16 triumphs, and thus the Olympics and Kekiongas gained a victory apiece by forfeit and the Athletics, two.

Mason then opened discussion on the similar case of George Hall. The British-born Hall played with four different Brooklyn-based teams in the years leading up to the birth of the NA. In 1867 he was a member of the Excelsior club when Candy Cummings threw his first curveball against Harvard. And he was in center field for the Atlantics when they snapped the Red Stockings’ epic win streak in June 1870.

As late as April 3, 1871, Hall was still engaged with the Atlantics, that being the date of a game at the Capitoline Grounds between two picked nines of mostly Mutual and Atlantic players.6 Additionally, at an April club meeting, Hall was elected captain of the Atlantic nine. But when the Atlantics took the field for a preseason game against the Tony Pastors on Tuesday, May 2, Hall was not there, having left on the previous Sunday to join the Olympics of Washington.   

It wasn’t another ballclub, but rather the New York Clipper that led the protest cry over Hall’s eligibility, averring that he had been a member of the Atlantics until May 9, 1871, his resignation from the club being submitted on that date,7 and therefore, all Olympic games up to July 9 were illegal and subject to the same forfeiture as the Rockford-Hastings games. 

In the end, the Clipper’s kvetching went for naught, as the delegates voted unanimously for the legality of the Olympics’ games. Presumably they put more emphasis on actual game participation — and thus Hall’s being elected captain of the Atlantics was not persuasive. It was probably reasonable, too, to deem the game of April 3 in which Hall participated as a “pickup game” rather than a “regular match game.”

Next up for discussion was the situation of the Kekiongas of Fort Wayne. The Kekiongas made history as the winners of the first game in NA history when they defeated Cleveland 2-0 on May 4, 1871, but by the first week of September they had collapsed, well short of the finish line.8 The question before the convention was to determine whether the Kekiongas’ games should be considered legal, as they never completed their schedule. There was the connected issue of the Brooklyn Eckfords, who played over 30 games against NA clubs between May and October, and picked up some of the leftover matches caused by the Kekiongas’ departure.

The Kekionga and Eckford issues, as well as the final decision on the 1871 pennant winner, were referred to the championship committee for resolution. The committee conferred briefly and announced it would allow time for all clubs to forward their official season records, and would rule on the championship and all other unresolved points by November 18. Scheduling the next meeting for the first Monday in March 1872, the conferees adjourned to enjoy the lavish hospitality provided by the Athletic Club.


The championship committee’s decisions were announced in mid-November. It determined that the games in series left unplayed by the Kekiongas would be considered forfeits to their scheduled opponents. The Eckfords’ games were discounted entirely, as they never officially entered the league. Thanks to two forfeits from Rockford and one from Fort Wayne, the Athletics squeaked past Boston and Chicago and were crowned champs.

The Amateur Association

The National Association of Amateur Baseball Players convened on December 13 at the Masonic Hall in New York City, with the dual objective of electing officers and revising playing rules. The gathering proved to be a bust, however, as sparse attendance left the body short of a constitutional quorum. There was some discussion of issues but ultimately nothing much to do but adjourn to a later date, and those present settled upon the second Wednesday in March, approximately a week after the professionals’ scheduled convention.

Out With the Old, In With the New

Six of the NA’s nine 1871 members returned in 1872: Boston, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, Troy, and the Olympics of Washington. Fort Wayne’s Kekiongas, who did not complete the season, and Rockford’s Forest Citys, who did, were both gone from the league permanently. The Chicago club held a meeting on November 11 that turned out to be largely a litany of fiscal woes, from lack of insurance on their burned-out park, to back salaries owed the players, to advances paid on 1872 contracts that could not be honored. Despite rumors of a phoenix-like revival, it would take another two years to restore the White Stockings franchise.

Down three clubs, the Association clearly needed new members, and got a surplus, with five teams joining. Most promising was Baltimore’s entry, organized by former Olympic officer and league secretary Nick Young. By the end of November, the club had already signed Bobby Mathews and Tom Carey of the defunct Kekiongas, John Radcliff from the Athletics, and Lip Pike from Troy. Young’s old Olympic associates, George Hall and Everett Mills, also enlisted with the new Maryland club.

Two teams of venerable Brooklyn heritage joined the fold: The Atlantics were in by January and the Eckfords by the third week of March. The nation’s capital would also carry two professional teams into the lists. In early April, the Nationals of Washington announced a nine that included former Kekionga regulars Bill Lennon and Ed Mincher, outfielder John Glenn of the Olympics, and a rookie named Paul Hines, who would star in the major leagues for years, finally retiring in 1891.

When the Mansfield Base Ball Club of Middletown, Connecticut, held its annual meeting on February 22, its intention was to compete for the amateur pennant in 1872.9 But by mid-April, with a nine including Tim Murnane, John Clapp, and Jim O’Rourke, the Mansfields had determined to go the professional route and thus became the NA’s fifth and final new entrant.10

The March Convention of the Professionals

What should have been the most important meeting of the winter months took place on Monday, March 4, 1872, as the professional association held its convention at the Kennard House in Cleveland. For an assembly of such significance, however, the attendance was embarrassingly scant. President Kerns himself was absent, and NA Vice President J. Ford Evans acted as chairman in his stead.

Only six clubs were represented. Hicks Hayhurst was there for the Athletics, Alexander Davidson for the Mutuals, Charles Clark of Troy, Robert Ferguson of the Atlantic, H. Clay Doolittle for Forest City (Cleveland), and Nick Young of Baltimore, the last named being the only new club in attendance. The Olympics, the Bostons, and the new Nationals club sent no one, and the Mansfields had not yet submitted their application for membership.

After the obligatory reading of the previous meeting’s minutes, the treasurer’s report was given by proxy.  His brief, oblique statement was: “Have received nothing, paid nothing, and have got nothing.”11

Next on the agenda was the election of officers for the coming year. In a surprising gesture, Davidson expressed the opinion that the office of president should be filled by a professional player, rather than “an outsider.” He proceeded to nominate Robert Ferguson, whose nomination was gladly seconded by Clark. Hayhurst was nominated for the vice presidency but declined, and Cleveland’s Doolittle accepted nomination for that office. Clark then nominated Young for secretary. With no opposition for any of the offices, Ferguson, Doolittle, and Young were elected unanimously. The convention did not bother to fill the treasurer’s position.

Bob Ferguson’s involvement in Organized Baseball dated back to 1864 and would stretch forward to 1891. In the course of a playing career that lasted through 1884, he spent time at every position, including pitcher. He often wore the hats of team captain and manager, and later turned to umpiring. He was known for his brains and boldness as a field general, but a reputation as a hothead damaged his image as a leader. In a brief address to the conferees who had just bestowed their highest office upon him, he thanked them for the honor he had received and expressed his hope that their business would be quickly completed.

A roll call followed and, in addition to the representatives’ designations for their own organizations, Secretary Young answered as rep for Boston, and Chairman Evans for the Olympic of Washington, both absent clubs. An extended but polite debate over voting entitlement ensued. Davidson, Hayhurst, and Clark were against representation for the clubs that had not sent delegates. Young argued that the Olympics had counted on Evans being their proxy. Evans wanted to know whether amendments submitted by Harry Wright could be acted on, and Ferguson declared that, Wright being absent (due to sickness12), they could not. Davidson made a motion that clubs with no delegates in attendance should not be entitled to representation, and this was carried. As a small concession, Evans was allowed a vote. 

The Clipper applauded the decision to disallow proxy voting at the convention, insisting that proxy voting was “the death blow to the old National Association … as it enabled unscrupulous men to obtain entire control.”13

The group moved on to committee reports. Mason, the sole member of the Judiciary Committee in attendance, stated that no business had been brought to the committee, so there was no need for a report. Evans, who was the chairman of the Rules Committee, then offered a series of proposals for playing rules that had been worked up by Henry Chadwick. Several minor amendments were voted on. Of note were two additions to Rule 5, one of them a clause inserted in Section 7 that allowed players to participate in matches with other clubs until April 1 without breaking the 60-day rule. This rule would not have excused Scott Hastings’ 1871 engagement with the Lone Stars through April 16, but was at least a concession to the idea that some members of the baseball fraternity might choose to play in warmer climes nearly up to the opening of the NA season.

Section 9 of Rule 5 was also new and was aimed at the “revolvers”:

No player who has willfully broken a written engagement to a club shall be eligible to take part in any game played by any clubs of the Professional Association during the year in which such engagement was made. No agreement for any engagement shall be considered as binding upon a club or player which is not made in writing and signed by at least one witness.

The matter of the Association championship was addressed in an all-new Rule 8. Highlights of that portion were:

  • Clubs desiring to contest for the championship must apply in writing with an accompanying $10 fee by May 1, no clubs to be admitted after that date. 
  • Each club must play five games against every other club, games to be completed before November 1 each year.
  • The club winning the greatest number of games (against other officially entered clubs) shall be declared champion by a Championship Committee of three appointed officials.
  • In the event of a tie in total games won, the team with the best average (winning percentage) is declared champion.
  • The champion club shall be presented a “streamer” or whip pennant by November 15 each year, and is entitled to fly it until the close of the next season.

Whatever malady kept Harry Wright from attending the March convention also robbed baseball of a potential early form of playoffs. In mid-February Wright had crafted a series of amendments regarding championship play. Among them was a proposal that, in case of a tie in games won, the two deadlocked teams should engage in a best-two-of-three series (before November 15) to determine the pennant winner. Wright’s absence prevented any discussion of the idea.14

Chairman Evans announced the membership of the Judiciary Committee, which included all the conference attendees including himself and Ferguson. Clark, Davidson, and Hayhurst were named to the Championship Committee. It was decided to do away with the committees on rules and printing, and the responsibilities of those bodies were transferred to the Championship Committee. The delegates voted unanimously to accept the offer from Robert DeWitt of New York to print an official version of the convention proceedings, free of charge.

The convention adjourned at 11 P.M., but not before scheduling the next annual meeting for the first Monday in March 1873, to be held in Baltimore.

The Amateur Convention of March

The National Amateur Association reconvened at the Masonic Hall on 13th Street in New York on Wednesday, March 13, 1872. Hoping to forestall the debacle of December’s conference, President Archibald M. Bush, a former star catcher for Harvard, had issued the following advance call for attendees:

It is earnestly desired that members will use their best endeavors to send delegates, so that as large a voice as possible may be had in the action to be taken on the report of the Committee on Rules, as also on a large number of applications for membership. Many of the amateur clubs of this section of the country have to a certain extent considered themselves bound to abide by the dictates of the original National Association; those clubs are reminded that that association has not held a meeting since November, 1870, its virtual dissolution having taken place on the formation of the Professional and Amateur Associations, and are invited to join and help to confirm the Amateur Association as an authority to be looked to by that class of the lovers of the game who play it solely as a recreative exercise.

Despite Bush’s plea, the group that gathered at Masonic Hall proved again too small for a quorum. In a bit of parliamentary finagling, the presiding officers adjourned the meeting sine die (i.e., without a specific date for reconvening) … and then almost immediately initiated a second meeting as if starting the organization anew, adopting their old constitution and bylaws, with an amendment to reduce the number required for a quorum. From this point all went smoothly.

The roll call showed delegates from nonprofessional clubs in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, including the Knickerbocker, Excelsior, and Star. Six colleges were represented — the most ever at a convention15 — including Harvard, Yale, Brown, and St. John’s (Fordham). Election of officers followed, and F.B. Wood from the Champion Club of Jersey City was elected president. Wood then appointed a Rules Committee made up of James Gale (Resolute of Elizabeth, New Jersey), W.H. Murtha (Excelsior, Brooklyn), and John Sterling (Star, Brooklyn). Wood also invited Henry Chadwick, who was in attendance, to work with the committee in crafting the rules. 

After discussion, the Rules Committee proposed adopting the playing rules voted in by the professionals in Cleveland, and these were accepted by the body with only such minor amendments necessary to maintain the inherent distinctions between amateur and professional practices. The conference adjourned with the next meeting set for March 1873.

A Special Meeting

Before the new season could get under way, an unusual special meeting of the professional Association was held on Friday, April 12, at the New York residence of Alex Davidson. Six clubs were represented: Boston, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, and Atlantic and Eckford of Brooklyn. No representatives were present for Baltimore, the Haymakers, Olympics, or Nationals.16 The focus of the meeting seemed to be on three points of confusion arising from the March convention:

  1. The entrants for the Association championship.
  2. The starting date for official games.
  3. A clause in the playing rules concerning pitching.

On the first point, the assembly decided championship entrants should be limited to “the regular members of the Association,”17 these being the six clubs at the meeting as well as the Baltimore, Olympic, National, and Troy clubs. This action ignored — intentionally or not, it is unclear — the fact that the Mansfields of Middletown had already submitted their application and $10 for NA membership.18

On the second point, it appears the May 1 deadline for entry fees was interpreted by some to be also the earliest date on which official matches could be played. The conferees declared that any two clubs could hold an official contest at any time after both had paid their entry fees; it was not necessary to wait until May 1.

Finally, there was the issue with Rule 2, Section 5, governing pitchers’ delivery of the ball. What seems to have happened is that Secretary Young, in the course of recording amendments to the playing rules, inserted a clause that was discussed by the convention delegates but not ultimately adopted.19 The clause in question read: “All balls delivered to the bat … which are not delivered by an overhand throw or by a round-arm delivery, as in cricket, shall be considered fair balls.” Apparently, the men at Davidson’s felt this allowed too much latitude to the hurler. Their solution was to revert to the previous wording of Section 5: “All balls thrown or jerked to the bat, or which are not delivered with a straight arm swinging perpendicularly to the side of the pitcher’s body, shall be regarded as foully delivered. …

The Clipper, which had gotten wind of the meeting ahead of time, protested the whole affair vigorously in its pages before and after the fact, insisting that no such changes could take place until the next annual convention of the NA, and certainly never without all member clubs (and the secretary) being present. They seemed, however, to side with the decision to ignore the Mansfields, pointing to the “folly of leaving the list of entries open to any club which may choose to pay the entry fee.”20 The Clipper and the special meeting notwithstanding, the Mansfields were shortly admitted to the NA fraternity.

The Professional Season of 1872, Part One

The 1872 National Association started with six stock clubs (i.e., clubs that paid regular salaries to their players); these were the Athletic, Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Mutual, and Troy clubs. Alongside them in the championship arena were five cooperative teams (which paid their players shares of gate receipts in lieu of a set salary); these were the Atlantics, Eckfords, Mansfields, Nationals, and Olympics.

Scrub games were taking place the first week of April in locations from Boston to Brooklyn to New Jersey. The first official match of the NA championship season was played in Washington on April 18. This game lasted but seven innings, as encroaching darkness mercifully called a halt to Baltimore’s 16-0 thrashing of the Olympics.

The 11-team NA survived intact until the end of May when the Olympics threw in the towel after a mere nine championship games. A month later, the 0-11 Nationals joined their fellow Washingtonians on the rolls of the defunct.21 This left the league with six stock clubs and three cooperatives.

In July it was demonstrated that even an above-average team could fall by the wayside. On the 23rd of that month the stockholders of the 15-10 Troy club “dismissed” its players, some of whom had allegedly not been paid since May.22 The players decided to soldier on; it was said they would continue as a co-op club and, indeed, the New York Times of July 31 reported that the Haymakers’ “first game as a co-operative nine” took place against the Mutuals the previous day.23 At the same time, there were hints of a merger with the Eckfords, who had not played a game since July 9.

Another Special Meeting

An extremely rare meeting of the Association’s Judiciary Committee took place on July 26 at the headquarters of the Mutuals on Eighth Avenue in New York. The impetus for this assembly was a disputed game between the Athletics and Baltimore that had taken place back on May 20. In it, the Philadelphia nine had quit the field in protest of a series of late-inning umpire’s decisions that went against them as they absorbed a 7-4 loss to the Yellow Stockings.24 Their formal complaint was taken up by the committee, consisting of Alex Davidson, Harry Wright, Bob Ferguson, Nick Young, and Hicks Hayhurst, the last two, of course, being officers of the Baltimore and Athletic clubs, respectively. Eyewitness testimony was given by Joseph Allen — whose position as a former director of the Athletics may possibly have colored his account — and it was enough to persuade Davidson and Ferguson that an out-of-control crowd was the true culprit in the May 20 mess. They sided with Hayhurst, outvoting Wright and Young 3 to 2, and declared that the game should be nullified and a makeup game played August 5.25

The Judiciary Committee next stepped somewhat out of its bailiwick — drawing a hearty chastisement from the Clipper in the process26 — by amending Rule 8, Section 2, concerning the number of championship games. Originally, each team would face each other team five times; now, with the disbandments that had taken place already (and those that appeared imminent), there was danger of a dearth of championship games in the season’s second half. Recognizing the potential inequities as clubs tried to fulfill their scheduled matches, as well as the impact on “pecuniary interests,”27 the committee raised the number of games for each team to nine.

One more important matter was discussed. As the ranks of unemployed ballists grew with each disbanding club, the question of exempting such players from the standard 60-day waiting period between engagements came to the fore, specifically in regard to the ex-Haymakers who seemed so eager to join forces with the struggling Eckfords. Here, the Judiciary members were more discreet and referred the issue to the Championship Committee.

The Professional Season of 1872, Part Two

The Championship Committee in turn approved the 60-day exemption, and the Eckford club welcomed six former Troy men, most of whom immediately became starters on the Brooklyn nine. On August 9 the new and improved Eckfords registered their first official league victory of the season in impressive fashion, defeating Baltimore 10-1. They would earn only two more victories, but they at least were in the arena until the end.

August 9 also saw Middletown’s Mansfields play their final NA game. The plucky Nutmeggers, who faced stock club competition in fully three-quarters of their 24 games, bowed out with a close 11-8 loss to the Atlantics.

The final casualty of 1872 was the Forest City team. Amid rumors of pending demise, the nine from Cleveland took a five-week hiatus starting in early July.28 They returned to combat in mid-August in co-op guise, promptly dropped two games to Boston, and finally expired altogether.

An odd sidelight toward season’s end was the tournament sponsored by William Cammeyer, owner of the Union Grounds in Brooklyn. He offered $4,000 in cash prizes for a kind of round-robin playoff involving three top pro clubs: the Athletics, the Mutuals, and the Red Stockings.29 The matches began October 8 and nine in all were played, through the 17th. Ultimately, it was only an extracurricular distraction, as the games did not count in the standings. Boston and the Mutuals even continued playing “official” league games during their days off from the tourney. In the end, the Reds and Athletics garnered three victories apiece but neither could be bothered to actually play a tiebreaker.

The season finally closed on October 31, with only six of the original 11 league entrants reaching the finish line. There had been some improvement in scheduling overall and a greater number of matches had been played, but the logical step of operating by a coherent master schedule from the outset was yet to be taken. On the positive side, the Association did manage to eradicate its championship muddle of the previous year, as the Boston Red Stockings’ 39 games won landed them clearly in first place over the Baltimores with 35 and the Mutuals with 34.




Nemec, David, and Eric Miklich. Forfeits and Successfully Protested Games in Major League Baseball (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2014).

Nemec, David. Major League Baseball Profiles: 1871-1900, Volumes 1& 2 (Lincoln, Nebraska: Bison Books, 2011).

Ryczek, William J. Blackguards and Red Stockings (Wallingford, Connecticut: Colebrook Press, 1992).

Wright, Marshall D. The National Association Of Base Ball Players, 1857-1870 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2000).


Boston Herald, April 1872.

Boston Journal, February-June 1872.

Chicago Tribune, July 1872.

Cincinnati Daily Gazette, September 1871.

Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 1871.

Daily National Republican (Washington, D.C.), January-April 1872.

Middletown Constitution, February – April 1872.

New York Clipper, June 1871-October 1872.

New York Herald, April 1871.

New York World, July 1872.


Beadle’s Dime Base-Ball Player, 1872.






1 New York Clipper, November 11, 1871: 2; Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 7, 1871: 3.

2 Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 7, 1871: 3.

3 New York Clipper, November 11, 1871: 2.

4 Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 7, 1871: 3.

5 Ibid. The Clipper of November 4, however, names Mason, Clark, and Young as the members.

6 New York Herald, April 4, 1871: 5.

7 New York Clipper, June 24, 1871: 5.

8 Cincinnati Daily Gazette, September 7, 1871: 1.

9 Middletown (Connecticut) Constitution, February 28, 1872: 2.

10 Middletown Constitution, April 17, 1872: 2.

11 New York Clipper, March 16, 1872: 5.

12 Beadle’s Dime Base-Ball Player, 1872 edition, 46.

13 New York Clipper, March 16, 1872: 5.

14 Boston Journal, February 19, 1872: 4.

15 Beadle’s Dime Base-Ball Player, 1872 edition, 48.

16 The Clipper of April 20, 1872, lists six teams as being represented and names their six delegates, and then mentions only Baltimore, Olympic, and National as not being represented. A later passage again states that three clubs were not represented. Because Troy is mentioned nowhere in the article, I feel it is more likely they were absent than present and so have included them in the list of absentees, but this is conjecture.

17 New York Clipper, April 20, 1872: 3.

18 Boston Herald, April 13, 1872: 2.

19 The Clipper of April 20, 1872, refers to it as “an alleged error on the part of the secretary in reporting a section of a rule of the game, which the Convention did not adopt.”

20 The Clipper’s pre- and post-meeting coverage appears in the editions of April 13, April 20, and May 4, 1872.

21 Although it took until August for the Nationals to be officially declared disbanded, they were entirely out of competition after their loss to Baltimore on June 26.

22 New York World, July 27, 1872, report in the Chicago Tribune, July 30, 1872: 2.

23 This Haymakers-Mutuals game was not counted in the official 1872 NA standings.

24 The Baltimoreans are usually referred to as the Canaries, but the “Yellow Stockings” nickname will be found occasionally, e.g., Boston Journal, June 7, 1872: 3, and New York Clipper, August 17, 1872: 2.

25 The almost humorous events of the May 20 match are well summarized by Nemec and Miklich in Forfeits and Successfully Protested Games in Major League Baseball, 153-155. 

26 New York Clipper, August 31, 1872: 5.

27 Ibid.

28 In fact, the Clipper of August 3 lists Cleveland as “defunct” along with the Olympics, Nationals, and Troy.

29 New York Clipper, October 19, 1872. An earlier attempt at a tournament in Philadelphia, reported in the Clipper of August 3, never got past the talking stage.