This article is about the baseball player and manager. For the violinist, see Albert Spalding (violinist).
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Albert Goodwill Spalding
Born: September 2, 1850, Byron, Illinois
Died: September 9, 1915(1915-09-09) (aged 65), San Diego, California
May 5, 1871 for the Boston Red Stockings
Last MLB appearance
August 31, 1878 for the Chicago White Stockings
Earned run average
Runs batted in
National Association of Base Ball Players
Rockford Forest Citys (1866-1870)
Boston Red Stockings (1871-1875)
Chicago White Stockings (1876-1878)
Chicago White Stockings (1876-1877)
Career highlights and awards
National Association pennant: 1872-1875,
National League pennant: 1876,
Member of the National
Baseball Hall of Fame
Albert Goodwill Spalding (September 2, 1850 - September 9, 1915) was an American pitcher, manager and executive in the early years of professional baseball, and the co-founder of A.G. Spalding sporting goods company.
2 Other activities,
5 See also,
7 Further reading,
8 External links,
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Having played baseball throughout his youth, Spalding first played competitively with the Rockford Pioneers, a youth team, which he joined in 1865. After pitching his team to a 26-2 victory over a local men's amateur team (the Mercantiles), he was approached by another, the Forest Citys, for whom he played for two years. In the autumn of 1867 he accepted a $40 per week contract, nominally as a clerk, but really to play professionally for the Chicago Excelsiors, not an uncommon arrangement used to circumvent the rules of the time, which forbade the hiring of professional players. Following the formation of baseball's first professional organization, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (which became known as the National Association, the Association, or NA) in 1871, Spalding joined the Boston Red Stockings (precursor club to the modern Atlanta Braves) and was highly successful; winning 206 games (and losing only 53) as a pitcher and batting .323 as a hitter.
William Hulbert, principal owner of the Chicago White Stockings, did not like the loose organization of the National Association and the gambling element that influenced it, so he decided to create a new organization, which he dubbed the National League of Baseball Clubs. To aid him in this venture, Hulbert enlisted the help of Spalding. Playing to the pitcher's desire to return to his Midwestern roots and challenging Spalding's integrity, Hulbert convinced Spalding to sign a contract to play for the White Stockings (now known as the Chicago Cubs) in 1876. Spalding then coaxed teammates Deacon White, Ross Barnes and Cal McVey, as well as Philadelphia Athletics players Cap Anson and Bob Addy, to sign with Chicago. This was all done under complete secrecy during the playing season because players were all free agents in those days and they did not want their current club and especially the fans to know they were leaving to play elsewhere the next year. News of the signings by the Boston and Philadelphia players leaked to the press before the season ended, and all of them suffered verbal abuse and physical threats from the kranks, as baseball fans were called at the time, in Beantown and the City of Brotherly Love.
In the following months, Hulbert and Spalding organized the National League by enlisting the four major teams in the East and the three other top teams in what was then considered to be the West. Joining Chicago initially were the leading teams from Cincinnati, Louisville, and Indianapolis. The owners of these western clubs accompanied Hulbert and Spalding to New York where they secretly met with owners from New York, Philadelphia, Hartford, and Boston. Each signed the league's constitution, and the National League was officially born.
Although the National Association held on for a few more seasons, it was no longer recognized as the premier organization for professional baseball. Gradually, it faded out of existence and was replaced by myriad minor leagues and associations around the country.
Meanwhile, Spalding and his brother began a sporting goods store in Chicago. In 1877, Spalding began to use a glove to protect his catching hand. People had used gloves previously, but never had a star like Spalding used one. Of course, Spalding had an ulterior motive for doing so. He and his brother sold baseball gloves, and wearing one himself was good for business.
In 1876, Spalding won 47 games as the prime pitcher for the Chicago White Stockings, who captured the National League's inaugural pennant by a wide margin.
Spalding published the first official rules guide for baseball. In it he stated that only Spalding balls could be used (previously, the quality of the balls used had been subpar). Spalding also founded the "Baseball Guide," which at the time was the most widely read baseball publication. Spalding retired from playing baseball in 1878, although he continued as a major force as owner of the White Stockings and major influence on the National League. Spalding's .796 career winning percentage (from an era when teams played about once or twice a week) is the highest ever achieved by a baseball pitcher.
In 1888-1889, Spalding took a group of major league players around the world to promote baseball and Spalding sporting goods. Playing across the western U.S., the tour made stops in Hawaii (although no game was played), New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon, Egypt, Italy, France, and England. The tour returned to grand receptions in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. The tour included future Hall of Famers Cap Anson and John Montgomery Ward. While the players were on the tour, the National League instituted new rules regarding player pay that led to a revolt of players, led by Ward, who started the Players League the following season (1890). The league lasted one year, partially due to the anti-competitive tactics of Spalding to limit its success.
Spalding's store grew rapidly over the next 25 years, with 14 stores by 1901, expanded from retail into manufacturing baseball equipment and is still a going concern. In 1900 Spalding was appointed by President McKinley as the USA's Commissioner at that year's Summer Olympic Games. In 1905, after Henry Chadwick wrote an article saying that baseball grew from the British sports of cricket and rounders, Spalding called for a commission to find out the real source of baseball. The commission called for citizens who knew anything about the founding of baseball to send in letters. After three years of searching, on December 30, 1907, Spalding received a letter that (erroneously) declared baseball to be the invention of Abner Doubleday. The commission, though, was biased, as Spalding would not appoint anyone to the commission if they believed the sport was somewhat related to the English sport of rounders. Just before the commission, in a letter to sportswriter Tim Murnane, Spalding noted, "Our good old American game of baseball must have an American Dad." The project, later called the Mills Commission, concluded that "Base Ball had its origins in the United States" and "the first scheme for playing baseball, according to the best evidence available to date, was devised by Abner Doubleday at Cooperstown, N.Y., in 1839."
Receiving the archives of Henry Chadwick in 1908, Spalding combined these records with his own memories (and biases) to write "America's National Game" (published 1911) which, despite its flaws, was probably the first scholarly account of the history of baseball.
In 1900, Spalding moved to San Diego and became a prominent member and supporter of the Theosophical community Lomaland, which was being developed on Point Loma by Katherine Tingley. He built an estate in the Sunset Cliffs area of Point Loma where he lived for the rest of his life. He joined with George Marston and other civic-minded businessmen to purchase the site of the original Presidio of San Diego, which they developed as a historic park and eventually donated to the city of San Diego.
He died on September 9, 1915 in San Diego, and was cremated.
He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1939, as one of the first inductees from the 19th century at that summer's opening ceremonies. His nephew, also named Albert Spalding, was a renowned violinist.
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