Saturday, March 8, 2008

An Out-And-Out Professional Club

In February, 1875, the Red Stocking Club organized as an out-and-out professional club with a capital stock of $12,000, the bulk of which was held by Thomas McNeary, who became president and manager with Andy Blong as vice and J. McNeary secretary. The team selected was composed entirely of St. Louis boys full of life and vigor, all ambitious to become shining lights on the green diamond and this they did not fail in doing. It was composed as follows: John McSorley, Andy Blong, Joe Blong, Charles Houtz and C. McCall both of the Empire Club; William Redmond, Packy Dillon, Dan Morgan, Zach Mulhall and Jerry Seward of the Empire Club. Andy Blong was sent as the clubs representative to the National Association convention held in Philadelphia on March 1...
-E. H. Tobias, writing in The Sporting News, February 8, 1896

The most interesting thing about this is the reference to the capital stock. This is the second source that I have (the other being an 1875 article from the Globe-Democrat) that mentions that the Reds had $12,000 in capital stock (and I believe the Globe actually put the figure at $12,500). Now it has been brought to my attention that selling a subscription of stock was not the same as having cash on hand. There was generally no trade of cash for shares but rather this type of transaction was more along the lines of a promise by the subscriber to contribute financially if the club needed an infusion of cash. Basically, it looks like McNeary, who owned the Compton Avenue Grounds and had managed the Reds since their inception, was promising to put up money if the club struggled financially or needed money upfront for something like luring Charlie Sweasy to St. Louis.

This raises the question of whether or not the Reds experienced financial difficulties in 1875. With McNeary owning the ballpark and, most likely, players (with the exception of Sweasy) being paid on the co-op plan, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of capital outlay or payroll. Their NA games didn't draw well due mostly to the severe weather that St. Louis experienced in the late spring of 1875 but there are sources that have the Reds drawing rather well, at home and on the road, in several circumstances. So while I doubt that the Reds were financially successful through the first half of 1875, their season was in no way a complete financial disaster. Add to that, McNeary's financial commitment to the club, in the form of capital stock, and it begs the question of why the Reds ceased their NA endeavor.

Based on currant evidence, I'd have to say that finances did play a part. With the poor weather combining with the team's poor performance in keeping attendance down, there could not have been much cash on hand. Combine that with Joe Blong's defection in late June and the difficulty the team had in scheduling championship matches, McNeary most likely came to the conclusion that the club's foray into the NA had failed and pulled the plug on the experiment.

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