Achorn: How ‘Whiskey’ league saved baseball in 1882

From SABR member Edward Achorn at the Cincinnati Enquirer on April 29, 2013:

Cincinnati’s renowned passion for baseball goes way back. Many Americans have heard of the celebrated Red Stockings of 1869, with their staggering 65-0 record, the game’s first openly professional team.

Less well known is that Cincinnati was also the birthplace of an early major league that arguably saved baseball and made it more truly America’s game.

Cincinnati had been a charter member of the National League in 1876, only to be dumped after the 1880 season, essentially for catering to the German immigrants who had flooded into the city during the 19th century.

Unlike the prudish Protestants of America’s East Coast, with their somber Sundays and no-liquor rules at ballparks, Germans loved to spend the Lord’s Day outdoors, watching baseball, preferably drinking beer.

“Beer and Sunday amusements have become a popular necessity,” sportswriter O.P. Caylor of The Enquirer tried to explain to the puritanical owners back East. “We drink beer in Cincinnati as freely as you used to drink milk.”

But the haughty National League, upset with Cincinnati for selling beer and leasing its grounds for Sunday games, expelled the club.

It may have been just as well, for under the league’s guidance, professional baseball was rapidly fading into oblivion.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 29, 2013. Last Updated: April 29, 2013.