Ryczek: Growth and conflict: baseball in the 1880s

From SABR member Bill Ryczek at The National Pastime Museum on December 8, 2016:

The economy of the United States was more robust during the 1880s than it had been in the 1870s, and prosperity helped make professional baseball the profitable enterprise William Hulbert envisioned when he formed the National League in 1876. Hulbert did not survive the decade, passing away from heart disease in 1882, but his league, which teetered precariously on the brink of survival at the beginning of the decade, was thriving by its conclusion.

His White Stockings also brought Hulbert success on the playing field. Before he died, he saw his club win pennants in 1880 and 1881, and they added three more in 1882, 1885, and 1886. One of the major reasons for Chicago’s success was captain and hard-hitting first baseman Adrian (Cap) Anson, who played with the White Stockings from 1876 through 1897, and served as captain from 1879.

Anson accumulated some incredible statistics. He had 3,435 hits in an era during which the schedule was frequently less than 100 games; he played just 247 games during his first five seasons. Anson probably played too long—he was 45 when he retired—and in his final years he was a liability in the field and on the bases. Like Pete Rose, the stubbornness that made him a great player kept him on the field well past his prime.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/growth-and-conflict

Originally published: December 8, 2016. Last Updated: December 8, 2016.