The 1869 season was therefore the first officially professional season
with teams finally free to openly pay the best players they could find.
Regular schedules, reserve clauses, gloves, and even "at bats"
as a statistic were years away, but this was the season that transformed
baseball from mere national pastime to the true professional sport we all
know and love.
You might be tempted to wonder how good that team from New Orleans was
that is listed first in the amateur standings (see right). Note that they
only played other teams from New Orleans plus a few games in Alabama and
when they finally began playing teams from Cincinnati and New York the
following year, they lost every single game. They might have been the best
in the South, but that meant little in 1869.
With the addition of a Canadian club from Guelph, Ontario, the
organization could truly claim to be the "International
Association," but perhaps wisely stuck with original name.
I would love to give you league leaders and batting averages, but as no
one kept at bats, we have no batting averages.1
It is tempting to think of this era as somehow more pure and free from
players wanting to be "shown the money" than today. But take a
look at the rosters below and compare them with the 1870
rosters. There was far more turnover back then than there is today. And
if you are wondering how the undefeated 1869
Red Stockings were built, it was the same way George Steinbrenner
built his teams: they outbid everyone else. Cincy signed George
Wright from Morrisania,
Waterman from the Mutuals,
Sweasy and Andy
Leonard from Irvington,
Gould from the Buckeyes, and Asa
Brainard from the Nationals.
Gould and Hooiser CalMcVey were the only non-Easterners on the Queen City's nine.
George convinced his brother Harry
Wright to sign on for $1,400, making him the highest paid player in
baseball history and the A-Rod
of his day. It was the best team money could buy, but it proved a drain on
its investors and the team folded following the 1870
season. Thus the first professional team in Cincinnati did not even
last long enough to participate in the National
Association. In fact no team from the Queen City participated in the
first major league.
1B: Tom Forker
2B: Andrew Gibney
3B: Ed Shelley
SS: Dennis Coughlin
LF: Sy Studley
CF: George Joyce
RF: George Fox
Prior to 1883, a club's standing was determined by the number of games
won, not by its winning percentage. As there were hundreds of teams, we
only list all 16 professional teams and the top 25 amateurs for 1869. 1. At Bats were only kept by a pair of teams for
the first time in 1870. While that makes it somewhat difficult to assess
players of the 1857-1870 era, we are very fortunate that this practice
became the norm in time for the 1871 National
The source of the standings are from Marshall Wright's unequaled book, The
National Association of Base Ball Players 1857-1870 (see bibliography
below). We do not have access to complete NABBP records that would show
all amateur teams that were members in 1869 or 1870, but we know it is
over 500 for both years.
Our sites have always been by you and about you. If
our TV Forums or our Technology & Science forums, you'll find literally thousands of messages from fans
of 1970s TV shows, survivors of hurricanes or aircraft accidents, etc. from all over the world sharing their memories, asking
questions, making comments. Our baseball section is new, but don't let
that stop you from sharing
your memories of the first game you went to, your favorite player, a
now-forgotten stadium, etc. Of course you can also ask questions, post
trivia, tell the world what you think of Barry Bonds, or just read what
others are saying.
Can you guess which stadium this is from the picture? Click here for the answer.
Logos and team names may be trademarks of their respective franchises or leagues. This site is not recognized, approved, sponsored by, or endorsed by Major League Baseball nor any sports league or team. Any marks, terms, or logos are used for editorial/identification purposes and are not claimed as belonging to this site or its owners. Any statistical data provided courtesy of Retrosheet (see credits).