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1869 Baseball Season

By Patrick Mondout

The 1869 season will forever be remembered for the undefeated season for the first openly, all-professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. But the season was about more than the Red Stockings, who failed to win the championship due to an unusual way of determining the champs (by today's standards).

At a glance...
1869 NABBP SEASON
Standings
(Pro Teams/Games Only)
Team W L T %
Cincinnati (Cincinnati) 19 0 0 1.000
Atlantic (Brooklyn) 15 6 1 .705
Athletic (Philadelphia) 15 7 0 .682
Eckford (Brooklyn) 15 8 0 .652
Union (Troy) 12 8 1 .595
Mutual (New York) 11 15 0 .423
Olympic (Washington) 9 12 0 .429
Maryland (Baltimore) 7 12 0 .368
National (Washington) 4 12 0 .250
Keystone (Philadelphia) 3 17 0 .150
Forest City (Cleveland) 1 6 0 .143
Irvington (New Jersey) 0 8 0 .000
1869 SEASON
Standings
(Amateur Teams/Games Only)
Team W L T % RS RA
Lone Star (New Orleans, LA) 22 3 0 .880 806 504
Forest City (Rockford, IL) 20 4 0 .833 1174 287
Empire (St. Louis, MO) 19 4 0 .826 834 492
Fairmount (Marlboro, MA) 17 3 0 .850 747 426
Star (Brooklyn, NY) 16 6 0 .727 618 338
Clipper (Lowell, MA) 14 4 1 .763 510 296
Harvard (Cambridge, MA) 14 5 1 .725 593 353
Lowell (Lowell, MA) 14 13 0 .519 821 602
Champion (Jersey City, NJ) 13 8 0 .619 434 388
Southern (New Orleans, LA) 13 7 0 .650 625 471
Gotham (New York, NY) 9 6 0 .600 485 386
Empire (New York, NY) 9 8 0 .529 437 401
Harmonic (Brooklyn, NY) 9 9 0 .500 509 441
Athletic (Brooklyn, NY) 9 10 1 .475 406 547
Mansfield (Middleton, CT) 8 2 0 .800 328 228
Mutual (Janesvilles, WI) 8 3 0 .727 335 290
Eagle (New York, NY) 8 5 0 .615 391 327
Olympic (Pittsburgh, PA) 7 1 0 .875 266 172
R.E. Lee (New Orleans, LA) 7 3 0 .700 254 203
Athlete (Washington Hts, NY) 7 4 0 .636 267 241
Athletic (Chicago, IL) 7 4 0 .636 384 353
Pelican (New Orleans, LA) 7 6 0 .538 328 332
Niagara (Buffalo, NY) 7 7 0 .500 528 330
Tri Mountain (Boston, MA) 7 9 0 .437 473 507
Mutual (Springfield, MA) 6 4 0 .600 232 272
TOP 25 TEAMS ONLY
NABBP Membership
CLUBS 12 (pro)/500+ (amateur)
CITIES 1
9 (pro)/300+ (amateur)
Notable new cities include:
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
STATES
(Pro in bold)
Alabama
California
Connecticut
Delaware
(District of Columbia)
Florida
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Missouri
Nebraska
New Hampshire
New York
New Jersey
Ohio
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Tennessee
Vermont
Virginia
West Virginia
Wisconsin
CONVENTION December, 1868
CHAMPION Brooklyn Atlantics

After years of under-the-table payments to some of the better players and even whole teams (who were sharing gate receipts) - all of which were against the rules of the National Association of Base Ball Players - the group finally decided to allow a special classification of professional teams within its ranks.

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, Fred Waterman from the Mutuals, Charlie Sweasy and Andy Leonard from Irvington, Charlie Gould from the Buckeyes, and Asa Brainard from the Nationals. Gould and Hooiser Cal McVey 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.

Rosters of the 1869 NABBP
Philadelphia Athletics
C: John McMullin
P: Dick McBride
1B: Wes Fisler
2B: Al Reach
3B: Jim Foran
SS: Tom Berry
LF: Ned Cuthbert
CF: John Sensenderfer
RF: Levi Meyerle
Isaac Wilkins
George Heubel
Hicks Hayhurst
Brooklyn Atlantics
C: Bob Ferguson
P: George Zettlein
1B: Joe Start
2B: Lip Pike
3B: Charlie Smith
SS: Dickey Pearce
LF: Jack Chapman
CF Fred Crane
RF Jack McDonald
Oliver Brown
Tom Pratt
John Kenney
Cincinnati
C: Doug Allison
P: Asa Brainard
1B: Charlie Gould
2B: Charlie Sweasy
3B: Fred Waterman
SS: George Wright
LF: Andy Leonard
CF: Harry Wright
RF: Cal McVey
Dick Hurley
Philadelphia Keystones
C: Ewell
P: George Bechtel
1B: George Albertson
2B: Billy Dick
3B: McClarnan
SS: Dickie Flowers
LF: Joseph Gwynn
CF: Eddie Woods
RF: Charley Weaver
Phillip Culp
Halbach
Eckfords of Brooklyn
C: Nat Jewett
P: Al Martin
1B: Andy Allison
2B: Tom Patterson
3B: Jack Nelson
SS: Ed Pinkham
LF: Charlie Hodes
CF: Fred Treacey
RF: John Eggler
James Woods
Tom Devyr
Courtney
Irvington
C: T. Buckley
P: Hugh Campbell
1B: Mike Campbell
2B: Mahlon Stockman
3B: Farrar
SS: Bill Greathead
LF: George Lines
CF: George Eaton
RF: A. Bailey
Union of Troy
C: Bill Craver
P: Cherokee Fisher
1B: Bub McAtee
2B: Charley Bearman
3B: Steve Bellan
SS: Michael Powers
LF: Matt King
CF: Clipper Flynn
RF: Steve King,
Willie Abrahms
Forest City (Cleveland)
C: Deacon White
P: Al Pratt
1B: Art Allison
2B: Hanna
3B: A.R. Smith
SS: Eb Smith
LF: John Riley
CF: Burt
RF: James Ward
Sheffield
H. Brown
Bradbeer
New York Mutuals
C: Charlie Mills
P: Rynie Wolters
1B: George Mills
2B: George Flanly
3B: John Hatfield
SS: James Carlton
LF: Marty Swandell
CF: Dave Eggler
RF: Billy McMahon
Roger Hunt
Billy Lewis
Tom Devyr
Andrew Gedney
Washington Olympics
C: Fergy Malone
P: Ed Leech
1B: Harry McLean
2B: Bob Reach
3B: M.E. Urell
SS: Davy Force
LF: Nick Young
CF: Eddie Woods
RF: Val Robinson
Dick Hurley
Nationals of Washington
C: Dave Birdsall
P: Osborn
1B: Tom Forker
2B: Andrew Gibney
3B: Ed Shelley
SS: Dennis Coughlin
LF: Sy Studley
CF: George Joyce
RF: George Fox
John Hollingshead
Brown
Lusk
Will Williams
Maryland
C: Bill Lennon
P: Elias Cope
1B: Reese
2B: Wally Goldsmith
3B: Buck
SS: Frank Selman
LF: Sam Armstrong
CF: Ed Mincher
RF: Mike Hooper
Bobby Mathews
Tully Worthington
Wilson
Lucas
Keerle
Elizabeth Resolutes
C: Laing
P: Stevens
1B: J.J. Smith
2B: Tallon
3B: Forsyth
SS: McL. Smith
LF: Beardsley
CF: J. Ball
RF: W.L. Smith
Forest City (Rockford)
C: Bob Addy
P: Al Spalding
1B: Fred Cone
2B: Scott Hastings
3B: Tom Foley
SS: Ross Barnes
LF: Chesney
CF: Al Barker
RF: Ballard Osborne
Stars (Brooklyn)
C: Herbert Jewell
P: Candy Cummings
1B: John Clyne
2B: Joseph Johnson
3B: Bob Manly
SS: Hy Dollard
LF: Fraley Rogers
CF: Herb Worth
RF: George Hall
Dick Hunt
Tom McDiarmid
ROSTERS OF 1869 NABBP

NOTES:
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 Association season!
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.

National Association of Base Ball Players sources/bibliography:
Baseball: The Early Years by Harold Seymour.
Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search For The Roots Of The Game by David Block.
Baseball in Blue and Gray: The National Pastime during the Civil War by George B. Kirsch.
Baseball (1845-1881): From the newspaper accounts by Preston D. Prem
But Didn't We Have Fun?: An Informal History of Baseball's Pioneer Era, 1843-1870 by Peter Morris
Early Innings: A Documentary History by Dean A. Sullivan
The National Association of Base Ball Players, 1857-1870 by Marshall D. Wright.
Playing for Keeps: A History of Early Baseball by Warren Goldstein.
When Johnny Came Sliding Home: The Post-Civil War Baseball Boom, 1865-1870 by William J. Ryczek

General Baseball History sources/bibliography:
Baseball: A History of America's Game
by Benjamin G. Rader.
Baseball: A Film By Ken Burns (PBS DVD)
The Formation, Sometimes Absorption and Mostly Inevitable Demise of 18 Professional Baseball Organizations, 1871 to Present by David Pietrusza.
The Great 19th Century Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball, 2nd Edition by David Nemec.
Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 by Dean A. Sullivan.
Middle Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1900-1948 by Dean A. Sullivan.
Late Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball 1945-1972 by Dean A. Sullivan
Past Time: Baseball as History by Jules Tygiel
America's National Game: Historic Facts Concerning the Beginning, Evolution, Development and Popularity of Baseball by Albert Spalding
Total Baseball: The Ultimate Baseball Encyclopedia by John Thorn, et al.

 



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--Patrick Mondout



 

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