June 18, 2013
Relations between baseball players and management have never been smooth. This was as true in the game's formative years as it is in this era of basic agreements and salary arbitration.
On Sept. 22, 1885, nine members of the New York team --among them Buck Ewing, Tim Keefe and Roger Connor -- formed a local chapter of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players. Ostensibly devoted to promote professionalism, the organization also served as an outlet for player complaints about such devices as the Reserve Clause. Enforced by owners since 1979, this standard clause in a playing contract obligated the signee to his team indefinitely, even after the contract expired.
The players at that September meeting selected John Montgomery Ward to be the Brotherhood's first president. Schooled in the law, Ward's credentials as to leadership and intellect were impeccable. He quietly went about the business of establishing Brotherhood chapters in each major league city, but by 1886 his organization had enrolled about 90 players, sufficient, Ward believed, to "go public." Ward openly criticized the buying and selling of players, and the Reserve Clause, using terms like "slavery" and "serfdom" that would echo through later debates on the same topic. For the most part, League officials dismissed these demands, hopeful the Brotherhood would go away. It did not, and within five years the simmering differences exploded into all-out warfare, with catastrophic consequences for many of the principals.
ELSEWHERE IN BASEBALL
On Sept. 19, Buffalo's "Big Four" (Dan Brouthers, Hardy Richardson, Deacon White and Jack Rowe) are sold to Detroit for $7,500.
Frank Thompson founds the first black professional team, the Athletics, Oct. 1. They will in later years become better known as the Cuban Giants.
IN THE WORLD
Grover Cleveland is inaugurated president, the first Democrat to be elected since before the Civil War.