May 26, 2013
By the end of the National Association's fifth season of play, its weaknesses had become evident. Gambling was rife on playing grounds, and raised questioned about the integrity of some contests. "Revolving," the practice of players jumping teams in mid-season for better offers, destroyed any prospect of club stability. It also ensured that the richest clubs had the best records, and the best talent. The Boston franchise, with the Wright brothers, Al Spalding and Cal McVey, won every championship from 1872 to 1875, often challenged only by the Athletics of Philadelphia.
Early in 1876, William Hulbert, owner of the Association's Chicago team, devised a plan to cure those ills. He proposed to a group of Association owners a new league, but this time an affiliation of clubs rather than players. On Feb. 2, representatives of eight teams met in New York to draw up a constitution for the proposed National League of Professional Baseball Clubs.
Hulbert's group made several changes in an effort to guarantee stability and competition. They raised the entry fee from $10 to $100 and established a fixed schedule, each team to face every opponent 10 times. Failure to complete the full schedule was to be considered grounds for expulsion. The league also set up firm rules barring betting on the grounds; sales of alcohol, while not yet formally prohibited, was frowned upon. A uniform 50 cent admission fee was set. Morgan Bulkeley, affiliated with the Hartford club, was chosen to be the league'sfirst president.
That fall, when the final standings were tabulated, the league's first pennant -- fittingly -- was awarded to Hulbert's Chicago White Stockings, with 52 victories and just 14 defeats.
ELSEWHERE IN BASEBALL
Boston defeats Philadelphia 6-5 April 22 in the first game in the history of the National League. George Wright, the first batter, grounds out. Two batters later, James O'Rourke records the first hit, a single to left. Chicago's Ross Barnes, who will win the first National League batting title, hits the first home run in National League history May 2 against Cincinnati's William Fisher.
IN THE WORLD
Soldiers of George Armstrong Custer's Seventh Cavalry are massacred by Sioux Indians at the Little Big Horn June 25.