From the Bart Auerbach Collection. Approximately 110 pages, folio, in ink in an "Excelsior Journal for 1890"; original binding of dark brown and mauve pebbled cloth, brown roan corners. Ends of spine and corners worn, sections of sides with dampstains, inner hinges reinforced, gutter margins of leaves with dampstains. Item #409298
A fascinating record by the owner of one of the teams in the Players’ League, formed by the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players in November 1889, after a dispute over pay with the National League (NL) and American Association (AA). The Brotherhood, which had 107 players in 1886, announced its intention to leave the NL on November 4, 1889. After being advised by Brotherhood lawyers not to incorporate before each individual team incorporated, the Players’ League was launched on December 16, 1889, with clubs from Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Salary for the players for the 1890 season was set to the salary they had received in 1889, except that those affected by the classification system received their 1888 salary. The salaries were paid by gate receipts.
The 1890 Philadelphia Athletics (alternately known as the Quakers) baseball team was a member of the short lived Players’ League. They compiled a 68–63 record and finished in fifth place in the league. Rogers, a prominent attorney and politician in Philadelphia, got into the business of baseball when a former player and sporting goods magnate, Al Reach, consulted with him about a patent on a baseball. In 1883 they bought the remnants of the Worcester Worcesters and relocated the franchise to Philadelphia, where they became known as the Quakers (and later the Athletics and Phillies). They entered the team as an expansion franchise in the National League that same year. During this time, Rogers was involved in creating baseball’s reserve clause, a structure that remained in effect until free agency.
Rogers’ manuscript ledger records the daily progress of the club throughout 1890. The entries range from small pieces of team business to trades and contracts to important meetings on the league’s structure. “As to suites for damages by Players Club. Jan. 1 No lease yet executed. Nothing but 10% paid in our stock. No money paid except lawyers fees & advances to Ass’n Players and possibly favor.” Jan. 3: “Have... architects looked at Forepaugh Park & talked game plans.” Jan. 8: “Lease for Forepaugh ground signed by Players Club for 5 years. Rent $8,000...” Jan. 15: “Vanderslice published letter in Ledger in reply to Myers letter in which he admits that including preliminary meetings of players in Sept. & Oct. The players were advised that our contract would not hold them for 1890 and having full knowledge of our contract rights...” Feb. 13: “Wrote to Spalding as to salaries of jumpers...” Feb. 25: “Long talk with [Joe] Mulvey” re: negotiations to get him to “play with us.”
Many entries record game scores, notes on players, negotiations, and events: Apr. 29: “Opening championship game (5000 present)...” May 9: “Long interview with Spalding & Reach about NY affair.” July 17: “Phila [7?] Chicago 5 won in 9th inning and we’re in 1st place again.” Aug. 1: “Write to Judge Thayer in reply to his letters as to League contract.” Aug. 12: “Send BB new League contract to printer for final proof.” Aug. 25: “Completed the deal for [Billy] Sunday... $1100 for him to Pittsburg.” A fascinating record, by a genuine baseball insider.