Tuesday, July 26, 2016

WRJ's I Love the 1870's

While flipping through my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder the other day, I was taking in the extensive history of the Chicago National League ballclub.  Within this binder, I have baseball cards of men born before the American Civil War slotted next to cards of those who are barely men and are younger than I.  It's really quite crazy to think about how a singular sports franchise could last as long as the Cub have thus far.

As such, I thought it might be fun to break my collection down by decade as a reoccurring feature and take a look at the players representative of each ten-year period within my collection.  Think of it as VH1's "I Love the 70s/80s/90s," but with baseball cards and the same amount of music as your average VH1 program.

Without any further ado, let's begin with the very decade in which the Chicago "White Stockings," as they were then referred to by the media, were founded - the 1870's (technically 1869, but they didn't begin play until 1870).

This decade is a bit tricky, seeing as none of Major League Baseball or the Chicago Cubs include the pre-Chicago Fire White Stockings as part of the franchise history.  So, I'm breaking this decade up into two parts.

Chicago White Stockings, 1870 - 1871:
N/A players, N/A acquired - N/A%

 2016 Wrigley Roster Jenga "Beaten By a Cow" Customs

Here we have a pair of customs featuring players from the earliest days of the team.  In fact, manager/second baseman James Wood was the very first player inked to a contract by the club. Tragically, he would later lose one of his legs after an abscess caused serious health problems. Meanwhile, Bub McAtee here was one of the players whose career and personal life was suddenly uprooted as a result of the 1871 Great Chicago Fire, which burned the team's home field, uniforms, records and put the franchise on temporary hiatus until the 1874 season.

To their credit, the initial incarnation of the Chicago Baseball Club won the National Association title in 1870 and finished second in their fire-disrupted second season before their hiatus.  Not bad at all.

Unfortunately, I have no official, non-custom cards of any players from this time period, seeing as it's basically been ignored.  However, you can see my full set of "Beaten By a Cow" customs at the following link.

Okay - for the rest, we pick up where Baseball Reference begins.


Chicago White Stockings, 1874-1879:  
62 players, 15 acquired - 24.19%

Notable names:

2014 Rookies App Custom                                            2006 Allen & Ginter #316

Davy Force and his (1874) contract hopping in the pre-NL days was reportedly the inspiration for the infamous "Reserve Clause" upon the League's founding, which kept players unfairly bound to their clubs until the days of Curt Flood.

Adrian "Cap" Anson (1876-97) was a member of the club from their inaugural NL season nearly until the dawn of the 20th century.  He lead the club to six NL pennants as a player/manager and was the first MLB player to reach 3,000 hits, punching his ticket for the Hall of Fame.

            2011 Tristar Obak #55                                           1980-87 SSPC Baseball Immortals #26

Ross Barnes (1876-77) smashed the first home run in National League history on May 2nd, 1876 and was the first batting champion in the league, posting a .429 batting average in that first season.

Al Spalding's (1876-77) The Hall of Famer's playing career was nearly done when he came to Chicago; however, he quickly rose to the rank of the club owner and went on to found a sporting goods company whose name might sound familiar to you to this day.

Some teammates of Cap, Ross and Al on that inaugural NL squad:

                                              2012 Infinite Baseball Card Set #140                         1888 Goodwin  #76 (Reprint) 

                                   1994 American Archives Origins of Baseball                                    2011 Tristar Obak #32

1977 Bob Parker More Baseball Cartoons #15

The 1876 Chicago White Stockings captured the very first National League pennant in 1876, posting a phenomenal 52-14 record along the way, finishing six games ahead of their nearest competitor - the Hartford Dark Blues. As you can see, the franchise certainly got off on the right foot. However, the rest of the decade would be plagued by mediocrity, never finishing higher than fourth or closer than 10.5 games back. It wasn't until the next decade that the team truly came into their own.

Some more notables from the latter portion of the 1870's:

2014 Rookies App Custom

George Bradley (1877) twirled the first official no-hitter in the history of professional baseball; although, of course that otherworldly feat was achieved as a St. Louis Brown Stocking in 1876.  After changing his Stockings for the next campaign, he we went 18-23 with a 3.31 ERA wearing White during his only season in Chicago.

                                                        2011 Tristar Obak #46                                   2015 Ars Longa Pioneer Portraits I #32

Joe Start (1878) spent most of his career in New York and Providence, but lead the league in hits during his only season in the Windy City.  Additionally, the first-sacker is widely credited as the first to play off of the bag, in the modern style.

Herm Doscher (1879)  had a playing career that spanned from the old National Association days through the rough and tumble years of the NL.  However, he is best remembered for having become a colorful but no nonsense umpire for the league, once he hung up his cleats.

Notable names missing from my collection:

Fred Waterman (1875)

Member of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first professional team.

Fred Andrus (1876, 84), John Glenn (1874-77) and John Peters (1874-77, 89)

Members of the first nine fielded by Chicago in National League play.


There you have it, the decade of the 1870's as it stands in my CATRC binder.

As of right now, there's not a lot of hope for me to keep adding to this decade, unless I uncover some more reprint sets.  The great majority left do not have cards and those that do are about a million and a half times out of my budget; they're more like museum pieces than they are baseball cards/collectibles.

Maybe some day, when I strike it rich...

We'll close things out with a popular song from the time period, as performed by someone from the not quite as distant past:

1 comment:

  1. I rarely ever think about baseball taking place in the 1800's... so I really appreciate the great history lesson.