From SABR member John Pielli at Baseball Essential on February 16, 2016:
The game of baseball in the year 2016 is a far, distant cry from baseball in its infancy. Of course, much about the game of baseball has changed, but my concern is how quickly 19th century baseball seems to have been forgotten. Thinking about how baseball evolved into the sport it is today from what it was in the eighteen hundreds is like remembering how our forefathers built the United States into the country it is today. Without the players and stories of the 19th century, baseball as we know it would simply not exist.
A lot of credit has to go to the Society of American Baseball Research, as well as to many writers and fans who keep the history of the game alive. In the past, I have written about several players from this time frame. A lot of them had issues, both mentally and physically, and had to deal with serious run-ins with the law. I found myself at times questioning whether a player such as Terry Larkin was a baseball player who engaged in criminal activity or a criminal who just happened to play baseball for a living. The next player I will profile seems to have lived a life free of crime, at least according to Wikipedia, baseball reference, and google.
Ben Sanders was born on February 16, 1865, exactly 151 years ago to the day. He was born in Virginia and ended up going to Roanoke College after completing high school. He finished his education at the University of Vanderbilt before signing with the Philadelphia Quakers of the National League. This was not very common, as few Americans graduated high school at this time, let alone completing a four year college.
Originally published: February 16, 2016. Last Updated: February 16, 2016.