Graduating From A Circus Wagon

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


[McManus] was connected with the St. Louis Club as ticket-seller under Graffen, having graduated into that position from a circus-wagon, and was made "manager" because some one must have that title. He is, however, only business agent, and what "managing" is done is by McGeary or some Director who goes along. McManus is shrewd, sharp, cunning and has never shown any indications of being over-scrupulous. He would learn that either in Dan Rice's Show or in the St. Louis Ball Club.
-Chicago Tribune, August 5, 1877


I think that this article from the Tribune gives us some insight into the way the Brown Stockings ran their club. We don't have a lot of information about the way club management was organized so almost any information we find adds to our knowledge.

I don't think that it's particularly shocking to find out that the manager was essentially a business agent for the club nor is particularly shocking that the captain was really running the club on the field. The idea that one of the directors is traveling with the club and possibly running the show is interesting but I don't know how much stock to put into it. We have examples of club directors travelling with the club and we have examples of a club director making decisions that affected who was able to play. Specifically, I'm thinking about Orrick Bishop and the McGeary situation and the Tribune seems to confirm the influence that Bishop had on the day to day operations of the club.

On thing that I discovered while digging around was that J.B.C. Lucas, the president of the board of directors, was out of the country for most of the 1876 season. He was in Europe doing the Grand Tour so it's possible that Bishop was really the guy running the club.

All of this is relevant to yesterday's post about the resignation of Mase Graffen. While it's likely that the impetus for the resignation was the birth of his child, all the machinations behind the scene probably had a great deal to do with Graffen stepping down. The Tribune article, written almost a year after the fact, shows the influence of McGeary and certain directors compared to the club manager. We have speculated before that the directors and McGeary were working together to undermine Graffen's authority. The Tribune seems to confirm this in a roundabout manner.

And I'm not even going to make fun of McManus for going from the circus to ticket-seller to manager because I actually believe that business experience with a traveling circus would have been excellent training for someone who wanted to run a baseball club in the 1870s. As to Brown Stockings management in general, that was a bit of a clown show.

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