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The Base Ball Season Of 1894

To professional base ball, as governed by the existing National League,
is mainly due the great popularity our national game has achieved within
the past twenty years. Of course the amateur class of the fraternity
greatly outnumber the professionals; but the game could never have
reached its present point of excellence in field work but for the time
and attention the professional clubs were enabled to devote to its
thorough development from the year of Harry Wright's famous "Red
Stocking" nine of Cincinnati, in 1869, to the existing period of model
professional ball playing. In the first place, the amateur clubs could
never have given the game the time and labor required for its evolution
which the professional clubs were enabled to do; and, moreover, not one
club in a thousand could have spared the money required to fit up and
keep in serviceable condition such finely equipped ball grounds as those
now owned by the leading professional clubs of the National League. To
these facts, too, are to be added the statement that to the National
League's government of the professional class of the fraternity is due
the lasting credit of sustaining the integrity of play in the game up to
the highest standard; so much so, indeed, that it has reached the point
of surpassing, in this most important respect, every other sport in
vogue in which professional exemplars are employed. Take it for all in
all, no season since the inauguration of the National League in 1876, has
approached that of 1894 in the number of clubs which took part in the
season's games, both in the amateur as well as the professional arena;
and certainly no previous season ever saw the professional clubs of the
country so well patronized as they were in 1894. Moreover, it was the
most brilliant and successful season in every respect known in the
annals of the college clubs of the country. In fact, there was but one
drawback to the creditable success of the entire championship campaigns
of 1894, and that was the unwonted degree of "hoodlumism" which
disgraced the season in the professional arena, and this, we regret to
say, was painfully conspicuous among the players of the National League
clubs, this organization having been noted, prior to its absorption of
the old American Association element in its ranks in 1892, for the
reputable character of its annual struggles for championship honors. One
result of the rowdy ball playing indulged in by a minority of each club
team in the League was a decided falling off in the attendance of the
best class of patrons of the professional clubs.

Much of the "Hoodlumism"--a technical term applicable to the use of
blackguard language; low cunning tricks, unworthy of manly players;
brutal assaults on umpire and players; that nuisance of our ball
fields, "kicking," and the dishonorable methods comprised in the term
"dirty ball playing"---indulged in in 1894 was largely due to the
advocacy of the method of the so-called "aggressive policy," which
countenanced rowdy ball playing as part and parcel of the work in
winning games. The most energetic, lively and exciting method of playing
a game of ball can mark a professional club contest without its being
disgraced by a single act of rowdyism--such as that of spiking or
willfully colliding with a base runner; bellowing like a wild bull at
the pitcher, as in the so-called coaching of 1893 and 1894; or that of
"kicking" against the decisions of the umpire to hide faulty captaincy
or blundering fielding. Nothing of this "hoodlumism" marked the play of
the four-time winners of the League pennant from 1872 to 1875,
inclusive, viz., the old, gentlemanly Boston Red Stockings of the early
seventies, under the leadership of that most competent of all managers,
Harry Wright. Yet, despite of this old time fact, if club managers do
not adopt the rough's method of playing the game, as illustrated in the
League arena in 1894, advocated by the class of newspaper managers of
local clubs, the scribes in question go for the local team officials for
not having a team with "plenty of ginger" in their work and for their
not being governed by "a hustling manager." Is it any wonder, under such
circumstances, that the League season of 1894 was characterized by

But little advance was made in the way of effective team management in
the League in 1894. About a third of the twelve teams of the League only
were controlled by competent team managers, while at least another third
were wretchedly managed, and the other third were not above the average
in management. Two of the old drawbacks to the successful running of
teams by professional clubs conspicuous in 1892 and 1893 marked the team
management of 1894, viz., the employment of drinking players and the
condoning of their costly offenses, and the interference of club
presidents and directors in the work of the regular manager of the club
team. There is a class of club officials in the League who, for the life
of them, cannot keep from interfering with the club's legitimate manager
in his running of the team. Some of them have the cool effrontery of
stating that "the manager of our team is never interfered with in any
way." One costly result of this club official interference is, that
needed discipline of the players is out of the question, and in its
absence cliqueism in the ranks of the team sets in--one set of players
siding with the manager, and another with the real "boss of the team,"
with the costly penalty of discord in the ranks. It is all nonsense for
a club to place a manager in the position with a merely nominal control
of the players and then to hold him responsible for the non-success of
the team in winning games. Under such a condition of things, the club
manager might sign a team of costly star players and yet find himself
surpassed in the pennant race by a rival manager, who, with entire
control of his team, and that team composed of so-called "second-class
players" or ambitious "colts," working in thorough harmony together, and
"playing for the side" all the time and not for a record, as so many of
the star players do, would deservedly carry off the season's honors.

Since the reconstructed National League began its new life, blundering
management of teams has characterized the running of a majority of its
twelve clubs, and it will continue to do so while the system of engaging
players for their records merely and not for their ability in doing team
work and in playing harmoniously together, is continued. Especially,
too, is the plan of engaging players whose daily habits of life are at
war with their ability to do first-class work in the field. Year after
year are drinking offenses condoned by the club officials who run the
club, and old time drunkards re-engaged for the coming season, while
steady, sober players are left out in the cold. Besides this blunder,
there is that of engaging half worn out stars in the place of rising
young players ambitious of distinguishing themselves in the League
arena. This mistake in team management was as conspicuous in 1894 as it
was in 1893.

A feature of the professional base ball season of 1894 was the almost
phenomenal success of the clubs--alike of the minor leagues as of the
great major league itself--in battling against the serious drawback of
the "hard times" of the year, which prevailed throughout the entire
season. Experience shows that in the sports in vogue which have innate
attractions for public patronage in times of great financial
difficulties in the commercial centres of the union, the national game
stands conspicuous; and the past season in this respect presented a most
notable record, no such crowds of spectators ever having been seen at
the leading contests of the season as in 1894.

Another feature of the past season was the interest taken in the college
club contests of the spring and early summer campaign, the leading club
teams giving a superior exhibition of team work play in the field to
that of 1893. In fact, the national game flourished as a whole
throughout the entire country in 1894 as it never had done before in the
history of the game.

Next: The League Championship Campaign Of 1894

Previous: The League Manifesto Of 1894

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