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1872 Boston Red Stockings
1872 Boston Red Stockings / Franchise: Boston Red Stockings / BR Team Page
Record: 39-8-1 Finished 1st in National Association
Pennant Clinched: September 21, 1872, vs. New York Mutuals
Team President: John A. Conkey
Managed by Harry Wright
Team Captain: Harry Wright
History, Comments, Contributions
The 1872 Boston Red Stockings were the champions of the National Association.
The National Association league meeting was held on March 4th. This year the meeting was held at the Kennard House in Cleveland, OH. Attendance was embarrassingly scant: League president James Kerns was absent, with Vice-President J. Ford Evans acting as Chairman. The Washington Olympics, Boston Red Stockings and the Washington Nationals did not send any representatives, while the Middletown Mansfields club had not yet submitted an application for membership. Red Stockings’ manager Harry Wright was also absent. In mid-February he had crafted a series of amendments regarding championship play: In case of a tie in the number of games won the two teams should engage in a best of three series, before November 15th, to determine the pennant winner. The league was made up of six stock clubs: Boston, Philadelphia Athletics, New York Mutuals, Troy Haymakers, Cleveland Forest Citys and newcomers the Baltimore Canaries and 5 cooperative teams: Middletown, the two Washington clubs: Olympics and Nationals and the two Brooklyn teams: Brooklyn Atlantics and Brooklyn Eckfords.
Manager Wright concluded that aside from the injuries, particularly to that of George Wright, the team could have won the pennant the previous season. Most of the team was back from the previous year, with Frank Barrows, Fred Cone and Sam Jackson being the only players who would not return. For the upcoming season, Wright added only two new players: outfielder Fraley Rogers from Brooklyn, and an old Cincinnati Red Stockings player in Andy Leonard. The team would begin the season for the second straight year on the road, with a 26-3 blow-out win over the Nationals. The team's first home game would not come until May 11th against the New York Mutuals, which saw the team score 3-runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to defeat the Mutuals 4-2. One noticeable difference was that unlike last season, the team did not lose its second game in only a matter of days. This time around it took the team about 2-1/2 months to lose a second game, by which time the team had a posted a 22-1 record. On August 20th, the Red Stockings went on 10-day road trip which saw the team travel up to Canada on August 22nd and 23rd, playing the local teams. The regular season resumed on August 31st with a 4-2 win over the Mutuals. By this point Boston had all but clinched the pennant. With about half the teams having folded, and the two Brooklyn teams not showing much competitiveness, the league was faced with a dilemma. At the suggestion of William Cammeyer the owner of Brooklyn’s Union Grounds, a tournament would be held in Brooklyn, NY, with about $4,000.00 in prize money would be offered. Boston, Philadelphia and New York agreed to participate. The tournament however turned out to be a disaster for a number of reasons: 1) Lack of fan interest; the weather; darkness as well as amending the format to allow the Mutuals to re-enter the tournament after having been eliminated. In the end Boston and Philadelphia both earned $1,500.00 and New York got $1,000.00. Boston went 7-5-1, but won the pennant handily.
Pitcher Albert Spalding posted a 38-8-1 record with a 1.85 ERA while Second baseman Ross Barnes batted .430. While the team was dominating on the field, they were not doing well at the gate. This was due in part to the unequalness of the teams in the league, the unsuccessful tournament as well as fans skepticism over the integrity of the various ballgames, particularly when it came to the exhibition games which led to a deficit of $5,000.00 at the end of the year. To make matters worse, a fire ravaged downtown Boston, MA that November. Because of this there were those who wondered whether or not the team would be back for the next season. During the off-season would see Wright work at trying to convince his players that if they would sign for the upcoming season, the team would pay the players not only their salary for the 1873 season, but as well as their unpaid salaries as well. Which was easier said than done, but in the end most of the team, except Charlie Gould, re-signed with the team.
At the club’s annual meeting at the Parker House on December 4th the team’s finances was discussed. Various newspapers give differing accounts on what the team’s debt was, but whatever the actual number was, bottom line it did not look good for the team. As in the previous season when it came to paying off the team’s debt, it was hoped that the 25 stockholders would be called upon once again to pay off the team’s debt. But unlike last time, some of the stockholders refused to pay the amount that was expected of them. The reason for this was mainly due to the large salaries that were to be paid to the players. There were those who felt that paying a player a salary of $1,800, was a bit much and that in the future these salaries will be less frequent.
In addition to discussion of the players’ salaries, it had been decided to seek additional investors. A committee of five members was chosen to create a plan as to how the organization would go about paying off the team’s debt and how to prevent this sort of thing from being a problem in the future. The committee would report back to the shareholders at future meeting on its findings. The new club officers was also selected for the upcoming season, with Charles H. Porter replacing Conkey as President. A week later, at Boston’s Brackett’s Hall, a meeting was held to hear the report of the five-man committee. In attendance was a large group of local supporters who had a plan on how to save the team. The plan was to form a “booster club” called the Boston Base Ball Club. The boosters would assume a majority share of the team’s stock, inherit the team’s debt, the lease of the Union Grounds, and team charter. They would infuse a money into the team in order to pay off the debts and the unpaid salaries of ballplayers. According to the Boston Globe, the plan would “give to the new club control of the affairs of the (Boston Base Ball Association), without involving the members of the new (Boston Baseball Club) in the debts of the association.”
The report was accepted, and over 40 new members were added. All members paid a $15 initiation and $10 yearly dues, which gave them a season ticket to the games and a say in the control of stock. Players who were owed money would be repaid in installments, and a recommendation was made that “the players be handsomely remembered in case a surplus of funds existed.” The new constitution was adopted on December 14. At the club meeting on January 2nd the number of new members rose to 100.
- Harold Kaese: Boston Braves: 1871-1953, Northeastern University Press, Boston, MA, 2004. ISBN 978-1555536176. Originally published in 1948.
- Mark Souder: Organizing the First Professional Baseball Team in Boston
- Mark Pestana: 1872 Winter Meetings: Inconsistencies and Ineligibles
- Bill Ryczek: The 1872 Season
- Boston Globe: Base Ball: Relief for the Red Stockings, December 12, 1872, pg. 8
- Boston Herald: Base Ball – Meeting of the Friends of the Game in Brackett’s Hall – A New Club Organized, December 12, 1872
- Boston Herald: The Boston Base Ball Club, December 16, 1872, pg. 1
- Boston Red Stockings Uniform: 1872