By 1881, the National League had become sufficiently established that competition was inevitable. It came in the form of the American Association, a rival league that organized in November and opened for play the following season.
The Association had plenty to contend with, for the National League was growing in stature, largely due to the rise of the first "great" team. This was the Chicago White Stockings of Cap Anson, who raced to the 1880 pennant, then won again in 1881 and 1882. Anson was his own best player; he batted .399 in 1881, .362 the following season, and won the RBI title all three years. But Chicago had other stars as well: George Gore led the league in hitting in 1880 at .360, King Kelly led two years in doubles, and Abner Dalrymple led once in hits. Larry Corcoran won 101 games, lost only 40 over the three seasons, pitched a no hitter in 1880 and did it again in 1882.
But if the White Stockings provided an impressive centerpiece to the National League's image, the new Association had a few things going for it as well. Most important, the Association's moral scruples were a bit less stringent than the League's, and a bit more to spectators' tastes. While the National League officially banned Sunday ball, the Association allowed it. Association teams also permitted the sale of liquor on the grounds, a practice prohibited at League parks but welcome in thirsty cities like Cincinnati and St. Louis. Finally, the Association under-sold the League, offering 25 cent admission, half the price of the League's standard 50-cent ticket. All of that allowed the American Association to open for play the following spring with six competitive franchises, and to prove for the first time that rival leagues could each prosper.
ELSEWHERE IN BASEBALL
Booted from the National League following the 1880 season in a dispute over sales of beer, Cincinnati's Red Stockings re-form as an independent club June 20. They will lead efforts to develop the American Association.
Roger Connor, slugging Troy first baseman, hits the first grand slam home run in National League history Sept. 10 off Worcester's John Lee Richmond.
IN THE WORLD
President James Garfiels is shot and mortally wounded July 2 at a Washington train station; he dies Sept. 19.
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