Bouton: Revisiting baseball’s 1887 labor negotiations

From Chris Bouton at The Hardball Times on February 7, 2019:

John Montgomery Ward was a baseball polymath. Born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, Ward was an orphan at age 14, expelled from Penn State for chicken theft at age 16, and a pitcher for the Providence Grays at age 18. By the age of 20, Ward had become the Grays star pitcher. In five seasons, he won 145 games, threw a perfect game, and generated 21.5 WAR.

After the 1882 season, Providence sold Ward to the New York Gothams. While in New York, Ward engaged in his other interests: education and celebrity. He earned degrees in law and philosophy from Columbia in 1885 and 1886 while avoiding any more incidents involving chickens. In 1887, he married Helen Dauvray, a well-known stage actress. Their marriage didn’t last, but Dauvray managed to find a place in baseball history anyway. From 1887-1893, she awarded the “Dauvray Cup”—made by Tiffany & Co. and “of the Grecian style, of massive and imposing appearance”—to the champions of baseball. The cup disappeared in 1893 after she and Ward divorced, following a marriage racked by his penchant for extramarital affairs.

Between his intellectual and celebrity pursuits, in 1885, Ward organized the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, the first players’ union in history of professional sports.

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Originally published: February 8, 2019. Last Updated: February 8, 2019.