Felber: Looking back at the Providence Grays

From SABR member BIll Felber at The National Pastime Museum on September 6, 2016:

Major League Baseball has crowned 139 “champions” since 1876, of which 137 represented cities that still have a big league franchise. The sole exceptions thrilled fans of Providence, Rhode Island, more than 130 years ago.

Inasmuch as Providence hasn’t fielded even a minor league club since 1949, it may be odd to think of Rhode Island’s state capital as a big league powerhouse. Yet between the Major League franchise’s creation in 1878 and its disintegration less than a decade later, the team known as the “Grays”—for its distinctive home uniforms—became a powerful force in the National League.  Providence won 438 games and lost just 278 during that period—a better record than any contemporary except Chicago. The Grays claimed both the 1879 and 1884 National League pennants and added the first recognized “World Series” title in 1884 by sweeping the American Association champion New York Metropolitans three games to none.

Although in existence for a mere eight seasons, the Grays’ lineup featured four Hall of Famers—John M. Ward, George Wright, Jim O’Rourke, and Hoss Radbourn. The Grays can also lay claim to having produced the first nonwhite Major League Baseball player—William Edward White—a Brown University student who suited up for one game in June of 1879.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/providence-grays

Originally published: September 6, 2016. Last Updated: September 6, 2016.