Ryczek: Stability at last: baseball in the 1900s

From SABR mmeber Bill Ryczek at The National Pastime Museum on December 22, 2016:

The theme of the nineteenth century had been constant change, but the dawn of the twentieth brought stability; for 50 years, beginning in 1903, the two Major Leagues had the same 16 franchises in the same cities. The Federal League caused a brief disruption in 1914–15, but the league that provided balance for the National League was the American League, which acquired Major League status in 1901 under the leadership of a husky former semipro player and newspaperman named Ban Johnson. In 1894, Johnson became president of the Western League, and by 1900 he had changed its name to the American League and placed teams in several of America’s largest cities. He made no secret of his desire to compete with the National League, but initially Johnson tried to co-exist in harmony with the established circuit.

Fighting was too deeply inbred in the NL magnates, however, and Johnson soon had a battle on his hands. This time, however, Albert Spalding and his cohorts had met their match in humorless, arrogant Ban Johnson. Pitcher Clark Griffith jumped from Chicago of the National League to the city’s American League club and began recruiting. National League players, after a decade of monopoly, were restive, and Johnson and Griffith reaped a bountiful harvest. Of the 182 players who appeared in AL games during the 1901 season, 111 had played in the NL. In 1901, the fledgling AL, with its infusion of new talent, drew 1.7 million fans to the NL’s 1.9 million, and the next year the new league outdrew the old one by 2.2 to 1.7 million.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/stability-last

Originally published: December 22, 2016. Last Updated: December 22, 2016.