From SABR member Graham Womack at The National Pastime Museum on July 5, 2017:
Near the end of the 1876 season, former Cincinnati Red Stockings Manager John Joyce gave an interview to the Chicago Tribune. It was the first year of the National League. Perhaps Joyce, a wealthy Ohioan who’d revived the Cincinnati club that year, faced precarious times.
“I think high salaries will kill the sport ultimately,” Joyce said in an interview printed on August 6, 1876.
“How so?” the writer asked.
“Because all the best players will be in one club, as they are now,” Joyce replied. “This club alone will make money. The Chicagos are about the only ones now making any money, and so it will be as long as managers are foolish enough to run up great prices. I don’t believe in such great salaries, and think the League should not allow them.”
Joyce suggested teams be allowed to reserve and then draft players at the end of each season.
Historically, it might have been the first time anyone expressed alarm about salaries being too high in baseball. It certainly wouldn’t be the last.
Originally published: July 5, 2017. Last Updated: July 5, 2017.