1871 National Association

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The 1871 season of the National Association was the first season of the league.

Season summary[edit]

It was a rainy night on March 17, 1871, when delegates from about ten baseball teams met at Collier's Room, an upper-floor saloon located at 13th and Broadway in New York, NY. It was here that the first professional league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players or National Association was established. It was not the first organization of teams - that honor goes to the National Association of Base Ball Players - but the first to attempt to put together a structured schedule leading to a championship.

The origins of the league came about due to a fiery league meeting the previous November over the direction of the association. Prior to the start of the 1869 season, the association had allowed for teams to start paying their players. By 1870 the association was divided into two camps, those who wished for it to remain professional and those who wanted it to return to its amateur roots. In the end, the two groups would go their separate ways. The new National Association was made up primarily of established teams: the Philadelphia Athletics, New York Mutuals, Washington Olympics, Troy Haymakers, Chicago White Stockings and two clubs sharing a "Forest City" name: the Rockford Forest Citys, and the Cleveland Forest Citys. The Boston Red Stockings and Fort Wayne Kekiongas were the lone newcomers. It was reported that at least two of the owners were stingy with their money, and as a result the Brooklyn Eckfords and Washington Nationals did not join the league for its initial season. Likewise, the Brooklyn Atlantics opted not to join the league.

Due to the lateness of the league's formation, the delegates did not put down a complete set of guidelines, particularly when it came to determining how the teams would be ranked in the standings. It was generally agreed upon that the teams would play each other five times, with the first three matches being considered “championship” games. The unasked question was would the teams be ranked by the number of games won or the number of series won. Because of the league’s failure to address this problem, newspapers across the nation would rank the baseball teams differently from city to city on any given day.

Two teams failed to complete the season, the Fort Wayne Kekiongas and Rockford Forest Citys. Not coincidentally, they represented the two smallest cities in the league.

The fall league meeting took place on Friday, November 3rd at the Girard House in Philadelphia, PA. Among the items discussed were a clearer set of guidelines in determining a championship; scheduling of games and umpires; Championship and exhibition games as well as the fate of the teams that had dropped out, including the White Stockings, whose records and possessions had burned down during the Great Chicago Fire that October. In the end, the issue of the Kekiongas and of the Brooklyn Eckfords, who had taken over Fort Wayne's vacated spot without officially joining the league, as well as the determination of the winner of the league pennant, were referred to a championship committee. A decision and all other unresolved points was to be reached by November 18th, at which point the Athletics were declared the winners of the inaugural pennant. There was talk of Boston and Philadelphia taking a trip to England following year, but nothing would come of it.


Bold indicates league champion
1 Philadelphia Athletics 28 21 7 0 .750 -.- 376 (13.43) 266 (9.50) 0.320 0.344 0.435 4.95 0.845
2 Boston Red Stockings 31 20 10 1 .645 2.0 401 (12.94) 303 (9.77) 0.310 0.339 0.422 3.55 0.838
3 Chicago White Stockings 28 19 9 0 .679 2.0 302 (10.79) 241 (8.61) 0.270 0.305 0.374 2.76 0.829
4 New York Mutuals 33 16 17 0 .485 7.5 302 (9.15) 313 (9.48) 0.287 0.303 0.350 3.72 0.839
5 Washington Olympics 32 15 15 2 .469 7.0 310 (9.69) 303 (9.47) 0.277 0.302 0.369 4.37 0.850
6 Troy Haymakers 29 13 15 1 .448 8.0 351 (12.10) 362 (12.48) 0.308 0.334 0.417 5.51 0.845
7 Cleveland Forest Citys 29 10 19 0 .345 11.5 249 (8.59) 341 (11.76) 0.277 0.292 0.391 4.11 0.814
8 Fort Wayne Kekiongas 19 7 12 0 .368 9.5 137 (7.21) 243 (12.79) 0.239 0.271 0.294 5.17 0.803
9 Rockford Forest Citys 25 4 21 0 .160 15.5 231 (9.24) 287 (11.48) 0.264 0.291 0.364 4.30 0.821

League leaders[edit]

Bold indicates league record, Italics indicate all-time record


Statistic Leader Team Number
Games Played Dave Eggler
Bob Ferguson
John Hatfield
Dickey Pearce
Joe Start
New York Mutuals
New York Mutuals
New York Mutuals
New York Mutuals
New York Mutuals
At Bats John Hatfield New York Mutuals 168
Runs Scored Ross Barnes Boston Red Stockings 66
Hits Cal McVey Boston Red Stockings 66
Doubles Cap Anson Rockford Forest Citys 11
Triples John Bass Cleveland Forest Citys 10
Home Runs Levi Meyerle
Lip Pike
Fred Treacey
Philadelphia Athletics
Troy Haymakers
Chicago White Stockings
Total Bases Ross Barnes
Levi Meyerle
Boston Red Stockings
Philadelphia Athletics
Runs Batted In Rynie Wolters New York Mutuals 44
Stolen Bases Mike McGeary Troy Haymakers 20
Caught Stealing Ross Barnes Boston Red Stockings 6
Walks Ed Pinkham Chicago White Stockings 18
Strikeouts Rynie Wolters New York Mutuals 8
Batting Average Levi Meyerle Philadelphia Athletics 0.492
On-Base Percentage Levi Meyerle Philadelphia Athletics 0.500
Slugging Percentage Levi Meyerle Philadelphia Athletics 0.700
On-Base plus Slugging Levi Meyerle Philadelphia Athletics 1.200
On-Base plus Slugging Plus Levi Meyerle Philadelphia Athletics 241


Statistic Leader Team Number
Wins Al Spalding Boston Red Stockings 19
Losses Al Pratt Cleveland Forest Citys 17
Win-Loss Percentage Bill Stearns Washington Olympics 1.000
Appearances Rynie Wolters New York Mutuals 32
Games Started Rynie Wolters New York Mutuals 32
Complete Games Rynie Wolters New York Mutuals 31
Shutouts Cherokee Fisher
Bobby Mathews
Al Spalding
Rynie Wolters
Rockford Forest Citys
Fort Wayne Kekiongas
Boston Red Stockings
New York Mutuals
Saves Harry Wright Boston Red Stockings 3
Innings Pitched Rynie Wolters New York Mutuals 283.0
Hits Allowed John McMullin Troy Haymakers 430
Home Runs Allowed Al Pratt Cleveland Forest Citys 9
Base-on-Balls Allowed John McMullin Troy Haymakers 75
Strikeouts Al Pratt Cleveland Forest Citys 34
Balks Bobby Mathews Fort Wayne Kekiongas 2
Runs Allowed John McMullin Troy Haymakers 362
Earned Runs Allowed John McMullin Troy Haymakers 153
Earned Run Average George Zettlein Chicago White Stockings 2.73
Walks plus Hits
per Inning Pitched
George Zettlein Chicago White Stockings 1.342

Notable events[edit]