Friday, May 6, 2011

The Report Was Probably False

One of the rumors that was floating around at the end of November in 1883 was touched on in the last post but I thought I'd lay it all out:

The new Union Base-Ball Club of St. Louis, it is reported, have signed contracts with Ward, the pitcher, and Connors, the first base man, of last year's New York team. Both these men have been reserved by the New York Club and they have broken the reserve rule to sign with St. Louis.
-New York Times, November 21, 1883

The followers of base-ball in this City were agitated yesterday by a report from St. Louis claiming that Ward and Connor, of the New York team, had signed with the new St. Louis Club. Neither of these players could be found, but it was stated on good authority that the report was probably false. Both are very shrewd business men, and it is not likely that they will sever their connection with a club competent to pay their salaries and join a new organization, being ignorant of its financial backing. Ward and Connor have both received large salaries from the New York Club. The former was not satisfied with the manner in which he was supported by the remainder of the team, and before last season was half over said that he would go to college next year and retire from professional ranks. Connor, however, had nothing to complain of.
-New York Times, November 22, 1883

Buck Ewing, the high priced catcher of the New York League base-ball team, is negotiating with the new St. Louis Club. Letters were seen to-day and as the terms which he named are acceptable, he will in all probability be engaged immediately by T.P. Sullivan, the new St. Louis Club's agent, who is now playing with Sullivan in the South.
-New York Times, November 28, 1883

The new St. Louis Club deny that they have entered into a contract with "Buck" Ewing, of the New York League team...
-New York Times, November 30, 1883

This, to me, all smells of fear and panic. Lucas was shaking things up and nobody really knew exactly what he was up to or what he was going to do next. The baseball establishment was afraid that Lucas was coming for their guys next and I think that was what fueled a lot of the rumors that we see in November of 1883. By ignoring the reserve rule, Lucas created a rather chaotic situation that stoked the fires of the hot stove league. Rumor upon rumor followed in his wake.

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