The League Manifesto Of 1894
The finale to the annual meeting of 1894 was the issuing of a manifesto
by the National League, which was called forth by an effort at treachery
in the League ranks which required prompt action for its
repression. This manifesto was issued without regard to efforts to
organize a new American Association, any opposition of the kind to the
National Agreement clubs, with the major League at its head, being
looked upon as futile, owing to the character of the men alleged to be
at the head of the movement; the main incentive of the League magnates
being to publicly announce what the penalty of treachery to National
Agreement interests would be in the future. The manifesto in question
was the work of a special committee appointed by the National League at
its annual meeting in November, 1894, which consisted of Messrs. Chas.
H. Byrne, H. R, Von der Horst, James A. Hart and John T. Brush.
The following is the statement drawn up by the committee, and referred
to the National Board for adoption:
TO THE NATIONAL BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL BASE BALL ASSOCIATIONS:
From the year 1876, when base ball was established in this country on a
substantial and responsible basis by the disbandment of the so-called
National Association of Professional Base Ball Clubs and the
organization of the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs,
down to the present time, the duty has been imposed upon some body or
organization to uphold and enforce the objects for which base ball was
established, to wit:
First--To perpetuate base ball as the national game of the United
States, and to surround it with such safeguards as to warrant for the
future absolute public confidence in its integrity and methods.
Second--To protect and promote the mutual interests of professional base
ball clubs and professional base ball players.
The National League formed in 1876 found a difficult task before it in
undertaking to carry out the objects above referred to. Interest in base
ball was at a low ebb. Gamblers were in possession. The game was without
discipline, organization or legitimate control. The sport was conducted
with dishonest methods and for dishonest purposes, and had neither the
respect nor confidence of the press or public. Heroic methods were
absolutely necessary. At a meeting of the National League, held in
Cleveland December 5, 1877, the League directors unanimously ratified
the action of the Louisville club in expelling from the professional
ranks James A. Devlin, W. H. Craver, A. H. Nichols and G. W. Hall "for
conduct in contravention to the object of the League."
These men had been charged with and convicted of willfully selling a
game of base ball. At first the action of the League in taking such an
extreme course was strongly denounced. The League, however, foresaw that
any condonation of fraud or crookedness meant death to the national game
and remained firm in its position. Public opinion soon turned, and
to-day it is universally conceded that the course then taken did more to
establish the honesty and integrity of base ball than any action taken
or legislation since enacted. From that day to this no charge of
crookedness or dishonesty has been made against a professional ball
player. Repeated attempts have been made to reinstate these men or those
of them now living, but their expulsion was final and irrevocable.
That the League was earnest in its efforts to purify the game was
further demonstrated by its action taken at a special meeting held at
the Russell House, Detroit, Mich., on June 24, 1882, when Richard
Higham, a League umpire, was, upon charges preferred by the Detroit
club, expelled for "crooked" work as an umpire. From that day to this no
such charge has ever been made against an official umpire. The rapid
increase in the compensation of ball players soon opened up another
avenue of trouble for the League, which needed and received prompt
attention. This was flagrant and open dissipation in the ranks at home
and abroad. While this was confined comparatively to a few men, the
innocent suffered largely from it, and the National League was brought
into disrepute. Heroic measures were again adopted, and several players
were indefinitely suspended, with excellent effect. It is safe to say
that to-day there is less dissipation and drunkenness in the ranks of
professional ball players in proportion to their number than in any
other organized or unorganized body in this country identified with
The success achieved by the National League in its efforts to develop
base ball as the national game became apparent in its rapid growth in
popular favor, and the establishment of clubs and associations
throughout the various States. It became evident soon that something
must be done to foster and protect the rights and interests of these
various bodies, and "that there was a recognized need of some central
power in base ball to govern all associations, by an equitable code of
general laws, to put the game on a prosperous and lasting basis."
To accomplish this purpose a meeting was held in the Fifth Avenue Hotel,
New York, February 17, 1883, at which delegates were present
representing the National League, the American Association, and the
Northwestern League. At that meeting the so-called Tripartite Agreement
was drawn up and agreed to, which substantially was an offensive and
defensive alliance, embodying a mutual respect of all contracts and
other obligations, and all rights of the parties to the agreement to
territorial rights, players under contract or held under reserve.
The adoption of the tripartite agreement opened a new era in base ball,
and it was so readily recognized as being a step in the line of progress
that when the committee which drew up the agreement was called together
in New York city in October, 1883, they decided to call the instrument
they had framed the National Agreement of Professional Base Ball Clubs,
the purpose being to open the door to all clubs, leagues and
associations desiring to live under the conditions, rules and
regulations of the agreement. Immediately several leagues and
associations applied for the protection assured the, and readily pledged
themselves to abide by the requirements designated in the agreement.
The action of the committee in framing the new national agreement was
subsequently ratified by the signatures of the Presidents of the parties
The National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs, A. G. Mills,
President, November 22, 1883.
The American Association of Base Ball Clubs, H. D. McKnight, President,
December 13, 1883.
The Northwestern League of Professional Base Ball Clubs, Elias Mather,
President, January 10, 1884.
The Eastern League of Professional Base Ball Clubs, William C. Sedden,
President, February 19, 1884.
The fundamental principle of the national agreement as originally drawn,
and which is now in operation, is a respect for territorial
rights. This, in fact, is the corner stone of the structure.
It contemplates and provides for the organization of cities into leagues
or associations, with one club, and one only, in each city, and a
contest between the respective cities for championship honors. The
interest which base ball arouses in any city is based absolutely on
local pride. The essence of value to a championship is entirely to the
city to which the victorious club belongs.
Experience has demonstrated that whenever and wherever territorial
rights have been invaded and rival clubs established, the element of
local pride is absent and interest in both destroyed. It is this which
makes a respect for territorial rights a principle which we must uphold.
It is true, nevertheless, and we so declare that we will gladly welcome
and shall encourage the formation of leagues and associations who desire
to operate under the national agreement, and consent to abide by the
fundamental principles of that document.
Reference has been made above to the difficulties and the obstacles
which at times have presented themselves and which have been by severe
but just methods removed.
To-day the future of base ball is confronted by a new condition, a
condition which in every particular is as harmful and in many respects
far more dangerous than open dishonesty or flagrant dissipation. That
is, treachery within the lines. To-day, and for months past we have had
men identified with professional base ball who for years have been the
beneficiaries of the game, have received liberal compensation for the
work they have done, earned their livelihood entirely and absolutely
from the opportunities afforded them by clubs and organizations
operating under the national agreement, and we find and now know that
these men, during this time, have persistently been identifying
themselves with schemes and combinations the objects and sole purposes
of which are to weaken and perhaps destroy the splendid fabric of our
national game, which it has taken years of effort, anxiety and large
outlay of capital to construct.
To-day we have the confidence of the public and the press of the country
in the methods and the integrity of base ball in larger measure than at
any prior period in the history of our national game. It devolves upon
us to continue to deserve and retain this confidence. We must endeavor
to do it.
The interests of clubs and professional ball players are identical. One
cannot succeed without the other. Success means mutual benefit. The
moment any suspicion attaches to base ball, public confidence lost or
even chilled, the occupation of the ball player is gone. We must all
stand or fall together. There is no middle ground. We stand by the
fundamental law, our national agreement, which guarantees protection to
players as well as to clubs, or we destroy it. One road leads to the
perpetuation of the national game, the other to its decline. There
should be no place, no standing room in base ball for any anarchistic
element which never aids in building up but is ever ready to destroy.
The time has come when some action should be taken to place this element
without the pale of our ranks. The National Board, operating under the
national agreement, was created to protect and guard the interests of
all players, clubs and associations identified with the agreement. Any
attempt to encroach upon that, to nullify or affect any of its
provisions, is of direct and material concern to all alike.
The obligations of contracts, the right of reserve, and the territorial
rights of clubs, associations and leagues must be upheld, and shall be,
at any cost.
It is a matter of public rumor and is also a fact which has come to our
knowledge that men identified with clubs, members of the national
agreement, have been co-operating in the formation of clubs or
organizations whose purpose is to conflict with the national
agreement. In view of this knowledge, the National League and American
Association of Professional Clubs in convention assembled respectfully
suggests to and requests the National Board to declare A. C.
Buckenberger, William Barnie and Fred Pfeffer ineligible to be
employed either as manager or player or in any capacity whatever, by any
club or organization operating under the national agreement, and they be
forthwith suspended. Such suspension to remain in force until such time
as they or either of them can satisfy the National Board that they have
in no way been engaged directly or indirectly in the organization of any
club, league or association formed or to be formed in conflict with the
principles of the national agreement. And in the event of their failure
to relieve themselves from this suspension within such time as your
Board may direct, they shall be expelled and forever debarred from any
connection with clubs or organizations identified with the National
Agreement of Professional Base Ball Clubs.
We furthermore request that your Board take like action in the case of
any player, manager, umpire or club official who in the future
identifies himself with a similar movement.
C. H. BYRNE,
J. T. BRUSH,
JAMES A. HART,
H. R. VON DER HORST,
N. E. YOUNG.
The above address was submitted to the National League at its annual
meeting, fully discussed and unanimously adopted.
Appended is the decision of the National Board:
To all National Agreement Clubs, Leagues, and Associations:
At a meeting of the National Board of Professional Base Ball Clubs, held
in New York city November 16, 1894, a communication was received from
the National League and American Association of Professional Base Ball
Clubs, in convention assembled, requesting this Board to take action in
the case of certain individuals heretofore identified with clubs
operating under the national agreement who have been charged with
treachery to their employers and the organizations with which they have
been identified. The request, so presented, was supplemented by an
appeal from the executive officers of the Eastern League of Base Ball
Clubs and the Western League of Base Ball Clubs to take such action as
was proper to protect said leagues in the rights assured them under the
After mature consideration, and governed absolutely by a desire to
comply with the letter and spirit of the requests made to this Board,
and having reasonable and substantial evidence upon which to base our
This Board has decided to announce, and it does declare that A. C,
Buckenberger, William Barnie and Fred Pfeffer are ineligible to be
employed either as manager, player or in any other capacity by any club
or organization identified with the national agreement, and said persons
are hereby declared suspended.
This Board further declares that such suspension shall remain in force
up to and including December 31, 1894, and in the event of the failure
of the above named persons, or either of them, on or before the above
named date, to show to this Board that he or they have been in no
manner, directly or indirectly, engaged in any attempt to promote the
organization of clubs, leagues or associations antagonistic to the
national agreement, they shall be expelled and forever debarred from any
connection with clubs or organized bodies operating under the national
The foregoing action was partially caused by the following
NEW YORK, November 15, 1894.
TO THE NATIONAL LEAGUE AND AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL
BASE BALL CLUBS.
Gentlemen: We the representatives of the undersigned leagues,
operating under the National Agreement of Professional Base Ball Clubs,
respectfully submit the following: Your body is the recognized major
base ball organization of the country, and have sole right to elect the
National Board and control all bodies identified with the agreement.
It has been made known to us, and we have good and substantial reasons
for believing that such knowledge is correct, that a new organization of
base ball clubs is contemplated, which, of necessity, must operate
without the pale of the national agreement. It appears also that it is
the purpose of the new association, if it materializes, to attempt to
take from our respective organizations and clubs players now held by us
under the right of reservation accorded us by the national agreement. We
therefore request that you, as a body, take some action to protect us,
so far as possible, against all outside organizations. We trust you will
give this immediate attention, and we await your action.
B.B. JOHNSON, Sec. Western League, P.B.B.C.
P.T. POWERS, Pres. Eastern League.
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Next: The Base Ball Season Of 1894