The Sporting Life
At the age of 29, Francis Charles Richter founded The Sporting Life in 1883, a weekly baseball paper, which became a great force in baseball until he disposed of it in 1917, during World War I. The motto of his publication was, "Devoted to the Baseball Men and Measures, With Malice Toward None and Charity for All." Its first issue was listed as April 14, 1883, 3 years before the founding of its chief competitor, The Sporting News. The last listing we can find is for April 28, 1917.
He was able to keep his 16 page baseball weekly going from 1883-1917, 34 years. In WWI, Sporting News was granted a subsidy by ML Baseball. Mr. Richter's Sporting Life received no such kindness.
Within the first year of publication, his journal boasted a circulation of 20,000; three years later, the publication swelled to 40,000. By 1890, the Sporting Life had sixteen pages, cost ten cents per copy, and boasted “the largest circulation of any sporting or baseball newspaper” (Baseball: The Early Years, by Harold Seymour, 1960, p. 350). The motto for the Sporting Life, taken from Abraham Lincoln's creed, for which he lived and worked by was: “devoted to base ball men and measures, with malice towards none and charity for all” (Reach Guide, 1926, p. 351).
Because of his former career as an amateur baseball player, he understood the integral aspects of baseball and sought to elevate the game. Sporting Life provided much the same sort of detailed weekly coverage of the game as The Sporting News -- though Richter's editorial stances often differed from those of the Spinks. Unlike The Sporting News, Sporting Life did not concern itself exclusively with baseball; for many years the masthead read "A Weekly Newspaper Devoted to Base Ball and Trap Shooting" - and news on shooting does in fact occupy as much as 25% of each issue.
Mr. Richter joined Thomas Sotesbury Dando and August Rudolph in founding The Sporting Life, a weekly periodical, in Philadelphia, which specialized in baseball and other competitive sports news.
While The Sporting Life originally noted the arrival of The Sporting News with approval very soon they were accusing Spink's paper of copying The Sporting Life's style. Spink replied that indeed, their advertising columns were very similar, except that The Sporting News had so many more ads!
Editorially, he supported the Player's League in 1890, with his Sporting Life. He wrote, "I have no very great cause to love the National League. What has it ever done for The Sporting Life? ... All the League ever did for The Sporting Life because it chose to act independently was to try and crush it." He also wrote tirades against the 'reserve clasue', which he had once favored.
Richter hired correspondents from around the country. Many famous sports journalists from other cities contributed to The Sporting Life on a regular basis. Some of them, but not all, included: Ed Bang (Cleveland), John B. Foster (Brooklyn), Jake Morse (Boston), Ren Mulford (Cincinnati), Bill Phelon (Chicago), and Henry Chadwick (Brooklyn). Mr. Richter continued to publish and edit his 16 page periodical until 1917, when wartime shortages in personal and materials forced his sale of his interest.
Here is a link to view some of their pages. They are hosted by the Los Angeles Sports Library.---Sporting Life
February 12, 1910.
Last edited by Bill Burgess; 05-13-2010 at 08:00 AM.
Francis Charles Richter:
Born: January 26, 1854, Philadelphia, PA
Died: February 12, 1926, Philadelphia, PA, age 72,---d. bronchial pneumonia at home.
Article on Richter's Impact on baseball
Francis' Wikipedia page
Philadelphia sports writer/editor: Sporting Life, 1872-1926---54 years;
Was Editor-in-Chief of AL Reach Official American League Base Ball Guide (1902-1926, February 12, death);
Founder/Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, The Sporting Life, April, 1883 - 1917.
In those days, being a Guide editor was a position of enormous prestige/importance.
Mr. Richter was a noted amateur player in Philadelphia. In 1872, he started in newspaper work with the Philadelphia Day, eventually rising to managing editor. He moved to the Sunday World and Public Ledger in 1880, when The Day folded. He instituted the US's 1st full-fledged sports departments in the Phil. Public Ledger.
In 1876, the NL expelled the Phil. Athletics from the league. Consequently, Mr. Richter supported the the formation of the rival American Association (AA) in 1882. Mr. Richter founded the weekly Sporting Life in 1883, 3 years prior to the Spink Brothers founding The Sporting News, in 1886, in St. Louis, MO.
In 1883, Mr. Richter assisted organizing the Phillies as the NL came back to Philadelphia. He supported the Player's League in 1890, with his Sporting Life.
He wrote, "I have no very great cause to love the National League. What has it ever done for The Sporting Life? ... All the League ever did for The Sporting Life because it chose to act independently was to try and crush it."
When the AA folded in 1891, Mr. Richter was involved in several tries to break the monopoly of the NL. In 1894, he allied with Al Buckenberger, Fred Pfeffer & Billie Barnie in a failed try to revive the AA. Again in early 1900, he allied with Chris Von Der Ahe, Cap Anson & John McGraw to reform a new AA.
In 1901, he was named Editor-In-Chief of Reach Guide for 1902, which covered the AL. He continued in this role until he died.
In 1880, he started the 1st sports dept. ever in a newspaper, The Public Ledger.
Drew up National Agreement (1883),
Helped place Philadelphia Club in AA (1882),
Helped place Philadelphia club in NL (1883),
Helped assimilate AA into NL (1891),
Drew up Millennium Plan which ended baseball war.
Mr. Richter was offered the Presidency of the National League in 1907. He declined due to his obligations to the AL Reach Guide & his own Sporting Life.
In 1914, he wrote, "Richter's History and Records of Baseball", an expansion of his earlier Brief History of Baseball.
In WWI, Sporting News was granted a subsidy by ML Baseball. Mr. Richter's Sporting Life received no such kindness.
For many years, he was one of the official scorers for the World's Series games, sharing the honor with JG Taylor Spink, publisher of the Sporting News.
He founded Sporting Life in 1883, a weekly baseball paper, which became a great force in BB until he disposed of it in 1917, during the War. The motto of his publication, "Devoted to the Baseball Men and Measures, With Malice Toward None and Charity for All," sums up the character of Mr. Richter.
He was a columnist for Sporting News from Dec. 8, 1921 - Sept., 1925. His column, Casual Comment was often addressed to administrative matters. He was always at the top of the BB world, albeit behind the scenes, working for the betterment of the game he loved so much.
For a long lifetime of service to BB at its highest levels, I nominate him for the Taylor Spink Award. His every waking moment was happily devoted to BB. In April, 1946, he & 11 others were elected to BB Hall of Fame as sports writers (Honor Rolls).
Some examples of Francis Richter's writings. In this case, on the subject of Babe Ruth, in the early 1920's.
(Sporting News, July 6, 1922, pp. 4, column 5; Casual Comment column)
1922 - "The recent additional disciplining of Babe Ruth by President Johnson for vile language to Umpire Dinneen, following other suspensions for offenses since his return to the game, has had a temporary quieting effect upon this inflated and ill-disciplined young man, but of the permanence of his reform there must be grave doubt, as his entire career shows that he has not the fundamental character to build real greatness in his chosen profession upon. Ruth has been spoiled by his popularity with the unthinking part of the public for excellence in one specialty: by the injudicious coddling and exploitation by his club; and by the incessant praise of the metropolitan writers--all of which he has not the brains, training or temperament to bear with becoming modesty or grace. His lack of ability to measure up fully to true greatness has been revealed throughout his career in recent years.
When the Boston Club gave him leeway in 1919 for his home run specialty by making him a regular instead of a pitcher, he broke the long-standing major league individual home run record, but proved such an insubordinate member of the team that Boston was glad to sell him to the New York Club. For that club in 1920 he broke the world's home run record, with the aid of the radical changes in the pitching rules, but the New York team won no pennant--owing largely to Ruth's discouraging effect on team work, though the club profited largely through his attraction as a drawing card. In 1921 he again bettered his world's record and the New York team finally won the pennant, however, not by reason of his home run hitting, but owing to the misfortunes of the Cleveland team; and that it lost the World's Series was largely due to Ruth's failure to measure up to form and expectation in that classic event.
Then came the famous "barnstorming" episode, in which Ruth defied both the laws of the game and Commissioner Landis, for which he drew a five weeks' suspension at the start of the 1922 season-- which marked the beginning of the end for Ruth. That five weeks' suspension was fatal to Ruth for the reason it prevented his proper development in condition and skill which comes only by participation in games; precluded all chance of equaling or making a new home run record this season, owing to his manifest decadence in batting; enabled other players to step into the home run picture, and demonstrated conclusively that he was not necessary to the New York team, as it jumped into and maintained the lead long before Ruth and Meusel rejoined it, and lost the lead not long after these two worthies got into the game, owing to the futility of their batting.
All this led to enormous shrinkage of Ruth's popularity with the fans, particularly of New York, many of whom turned from adulation to derision. The press, too, turned largely against the fallen idol--all of which had its effect upon a man of Ruth's limited intelligence, variable temperament, and colossal egotism, and undoubtedly led to his senseless rows with umpires, for which he has been properly disciplined by President Johnson, who threatens to repeat the dose, upon similar provocation, until Ruth either behaves or gets out. . .
In this event the brief reign of Babe Ruth, though highly profitable to the New York Club, will be memorable only for its evil effect upon the sport as a whole, as his constant exploitation as a home run hitter stimulated a home run craze in both public and players that led to temporary abandonment of scientific play; and militated vastly against team work and discipline; and, worst of all, made a popular hero of a specialty player who lacks every qualification of a truly great player." (Sporting News, July 6, 1922, Casual Comment column)
Followup piece by same writer, Mr. Francis Charles Richter.
(Sporting News, October 4, 1923, pp. 4, column 5, Casual Comment column)
"One of the biggest factors in the complete reversal of the Yankee team form was Babe Ruth, who amply made good his promise of reform made last winter, while still smarting under the ignominy of his pitifully inadequate World Series showing. This reformation, consistently carried out, embraced both conduct on & off the field and general play. His general conduct has been exemplary, not containing even one rebuke, while his entire method of play has been both revolutionized and his conception of his place in and duties to the scene of baseball has been changed and vastly enlarged. Ruth has become traceable, obedient to his manager's slightest wish, and a team player of the first rank, always willing to subordinate himself to the common good."
"Instead of confining himself to his former specialty of home run hitting (He hit 41 in '23) -- Ruth has all season resorted to every style of batting suitable to the occasion, not even excepting bunting: and consequently has proven one of the greatest batsman in the American League, running a season-long neck-and-neck race with Harry Heilmann of Detroit for the batting leadership. In addition his fielding has been both accurate and brilliant, and his base running excellent (17-21). Altogether a more striking and successful change was never witnessed in a star player between two seasons."
Ruth has now been rewarded for his subjugation of self, and a great and most fitting reward it is. Instead of being known simply as the great home run slugger he will go down in history as the most valuable player on all counts in the American League in 1923--the greatest tribute that could be offered any player, and one coveted by all players in that great organization.
This honor officially falls to Ruth by vote of the American League Trophy Committee, consisting of one scribe from each American League city, under the chairmanship of the veteran I. E. Sanborn of Chicago. A striking thing about this decision of the committee and at the same time a tribute to Ruth's complete in manner, habits and team play, was that the vote for Ruth was unanimous, whereas a year ago, his name was not even mentioned, which should convince the "American League's greatest player of 1923" of the enduring value of good conduct, personal subjection to discipline, and all round team play, so that he may persevere therein, and thus go down in history as one of the comparatively few really great players in conduct and all departments of play.(Sporting News, October 4, 1923, pp. 4, column 5, Casual Comment column)
By Frances Richter, Reach AL Baseball Guide, February, 1926
------------------------A Base Ball Idol Dethroned---------------------------------------
-----------------------By the Editor of the Reach Guide----------------------------------
During the 1925 season Babe Ruth, the best advertised and most exploited base ball player of modern times, and consequently the most popular player for the time being, suffered his worst season both in health and playing skill, and toward the end of the season fell from his throne through disobedience of orders and through illness, caused in part through his regular defiance of living rules was ill for nearly two months in a New York hospital, and when he did report for duty, found his forces so much impaired that he suffered much in playing skill. His work in the field was decidedly mediocre and he fell off so greatly in batting that he fell from the pinnacle to a very mediocre place, his average for the major part of the season being about 260. But his real fall came on August 30, when on the same day that the veteran Ty Cobb was honored by the City of Detroit at a municipal dinner at which he was presented with a $10,000 check by the Detroit Club president, Ruth, Cobb's greatest rival for popularity was suspended indefinitely and fined $5,000--a record for breaches of club rules in staying out late at nights. This action was taken at the close of a Western trip and the Yankee team left for home without Ruth.
----------------------RUTH ADMITS HIS SHORTCOMINGS---------------------------------
Ruth stopped off in Chicago for the purpose of seeking Commissioner Landis' intervention n the matter of his indefinite suspension and record-breaking fine. Ruth failed to find Mr. Landis, who was at his summer home at Bent Lake, Michigan, but was advised that under the rules, Mr. Landis had no jurisdiction in the case for ten days, so Ruth decided to hurry to New York to lay his case before President Ruppert. While in Chicago, Ruth admitted that he had twice expressly violated Manager Huggins' orders while at bat, one time hitting the ball out when ordered to sacrifice, and the other time sacrificing when ordered to hit, thus willfully substituting his own judgment in violation of club rules and discipline. He also admitted having remained out an hour and a half late one night at St. Louis, but he contended that his suspension and fine -- was merely an attempt by Manager Huggins to shield his own managerial short-comings, and to make him - Ruth - the goat. Ruth charged that Huggins was an incompetent manager whose team won for three years through its internal strength and lost the pennant in 1924 by not getting the most out of the team--to all of which charges Manager Huggins refused to reply, merely pointing to Ruth's repeated refractions of league and club rules in the seasons of 1922 and 1924, and his latest escapades in 1925, all of which violated repeated promises to reform, promises which were only kept in 1923, when Ruth performed so well all season that he was voted the crown as "the most valuable player in the league."
---------------------------RUTH FORGIVEN AND REINSTATED--------------------------
When Ruth arrived in New York he made haste to lay his case before President Ruppert. To his surprise he met with a frosty reception, was reminded of his serious breeches of club rules in the past and was told his reinstatement was entirely up to Manager Huggins, with whom he would have to make his peace, else the indefinite suspension would continue. This plainly showed Ruth just where and how he stood and he at once decided to make overtures to Manager Huggins for reconciliation and reinstatement. He sought Manager Huggins after a game, apologized for his criticism of the manager, and asked pardon for his breeches of club rules, promising complete reformation if reinstated. Manager Huggins therefore shook hands with Ruth in forgiveness of his personal criticism and promised to take the matter of reinstatement under consideration. After letting Ruth sweat for several days Manager Huggins reinstated Ruth, on September 7, but according to all accounts the record fine of $5,000 was not remitted. In justice to Ruth, it must be admitted that for the balance of the season he played good ball and also showed such improvement in batting that by the end of the season it was .293--an improvement of thirty point over his mid-season batting. Ruth has undoubtedly been one of the greatest drawing cards in all of the history of the game, and in spite of the big pay he has received has probably been a good investment for his employers. His future depends largely upon himself. If he has "gone back" for good, the fickle public will soon be looking for some one to take his place. But if he has the ability and the desire to shine again both his employers and the patrons of the game are likely to be indulgent. The moral of it, however, is that if you want to succeed you have to be on the job constantly.
--------------------LOST FORTUNE THROUGH IRRESPONSIBILITY--------------------------
In an article in "Collier's Weekly," Ruth, after his reinstatement estimated that through extravagances and follies he had lost a large-sized fortune. Ruth, in his narrative recounts his "missteps" and really tremendous losses through gambling, ill-starred business ventures and in fighting legal suits, all of which he figures at $250,000 besides an equal amount estimated to have gone to "high living, parties, charities, gifts, etc." Once, he admits, he lost $35,000 on a single horse race. Ruth also disclosed that as early as 1922 Miller Huggins, manager of the New York Yankees fined him $9,000 for "continued violation of training rules, culminating in a wet party on Broadway." But the fine was later rescinded because Ruth was "riding the crest of one of my inspired batting streaks, hitting a homer almost every day." This was not known generally, late last season, when Ruth was fined $5,000 by Huggins for "misconduct off the field," while the Yankees were in St. Louis. "I have been the sappiest of saps", he adds. "But I'm going to make good all over again." As evidence of his intention to come back, Ruth, after finishing a hunting trip in the north woods, plans to go to St. Petersburg, Fla., the Yankees training camp, then to visit Hot Springs before joining his teammates in Florida for the regular conditioning grind.
To the Memory of Frances Richter: John B. Foster Gives Estimate of Late Writer:
Veteran Historian and Authority Loved His Baseball and Wrote It with Understanding and Spirit. (Sporting News, February 25, 1926, pp. 6, column 6-7.)
The following is a communication from John B. Foster, editor of the Spalding Guide, and one of the best known of the older chroniclers of baseball affairs in New York. It is a personal appraisement of the character and genuineness of Frances C. Richter, veteran baseball writer and historian of Philadelphia, who died the other day. Foster knew Richter intimately, knew his high ideals and purposes and knew his value and source to the game.
"I beg the courtesy of the columns of The Sporting News to express my personal grief over the death of Frances C. Richter, founder and editor of Sporting Life until it passed into the graveyard of newspaper enterprises. Francis C. Richter was one of the constructive geniuses of baseball with the pen. In the past 30 years we have had many commentators on baseball, some of them sincere, some purely frivolous, some penetrating, some shallow, some quick of perception, some not so keen, some prophetic, some fatalists.
"How could it be otherwise with all manner of men writing of baseball, and men thrown into the position of critics of baseball at the behest of managing editors who, because of the success of humorous and cynical writers--few of whom ever kept up the task very long--were imbued with the idea that baseball was closely related to the comic valentine, hence governed themselves accordingly.
-------------------------------------Game Close to Richter's Heart-----------------------------------------------------------------
"Richter was none of these. He loved baseball and he wrote baseball from the standpoint of the man who has found what a game really is. He permitted all manner of criticism to enter into the columns of his publication, if it were not libelous, even though at variance with his own opinions, and thus he helped the game of baseball mightily. His own personality was against destructive criticism, yet he conceded that out of the preaching of the opportunist there might come good for the stability of the sport.
"It was the custom in years gone by to predict from season to season that there would be 'no next season.' Often men who enjoyed the game of baseball would express their doubt as to its future. Again and again I heard some of them say--'How much longer will it last?' That was in the 'eighties' and if at that time some one had said there would be 50,000 spectators to see a ball game in the next quarter century, there have been doubts as to his sanity. even as late as the 'nineties' a statement made by the late Albert G. Spalding that 75,000 persons would soon see a ball game, which was made to me in the course of conversation, was ridiculed by the pessimists. Yet, Spalding was right. The 75,000 mark has not been actually reached, but if there were 100,000 seats available they could be sold, not only for World's Series games, but for occasional holiday games.
"Francis C. Richter was always of this group of firm believers in baseball future. He commented caustically at times and he wielded a pen that could put the truth home with a sharp point. However bitter his criticism might seem to be there was behind it a fight for the game of baseball itself and it was that surface cynicism of the writer who deals in personalities. A field of personalities is always easiest in which to volunteer as a commentator.
"When baseball needed the enforcement of certain regulations that had been forced upon it, because of its growth and its unexpected evolution as a magnet for the non-player, Richter was foremost in fighting for them.
"He entered losing battles when he essayed to play league politics and fight for separation of organizations, and the entry of newer organizations, but I have been told that he was forced into this condition by the business policy of his office management, which shifted its affiliation, if that is the better way to put it, and which erred grossly because it was this which ultimately led to the downfall of Sporting Life. The stability of the paper as an organ of baseball was undermined by the intervention of the business office and in his later days Richter deplored with sad words the end of one of the best newspapers devoted strictly to the game that had been introduced into current affairs.
-------------------------------------------GRACED WITH BROAD VISION-------------------------------------------------------
"When the American Association and the National League were amalgamated into a 12-club league in 1891, there were but two writers of those in the United States who knew every move that was being made from the first approach of the National League to absorb its rival, and one of the two was Richter. It was he who worked with the committee of the National League to prove to Von Der Ahe of St. Louis, that it would be better to weld the circuits into one. Richter was present when the final step was taken.
"He was a good student of baseball rules and it was largely through his insistence and splendid presentation of argument that the pitching distance was increased to 60 feet, six inches, although there were many who thought he was quite wrong. Even the pitchers thought so, but they shortly found out they could pitch better at the long distance than at the short, as their curves broke better for them.
"Almost without exception, as I recall it, Richter was right in anything which had to do with development of the game, per se, but some of us differed with his opinions about what is known as baseball politics. Whatever baseball politics may be, they have never been able to harm the pastime from tits standpoint, of good to man, although they have played a disastrous hand more than once to promoters of baseball clubs who have ventured into the sport with the idea that it is something which gains large earnings even if there is poor judgment in administration and complete lack of knowledge as to the requirements.
"Various men are designated as this and that in baseball. Some of them are entitled to the fine tributes that have been paid to them, yet I doubt if any one of them ever did as much and certainly not more, for baseball, when the game really needed support most of all, than Francis C. Richter.
---------------------------------------------Saw the Sport of the Thing------------------------------------------------------
"Those who are modern to the game have no conception of some of the early handicaps that attended it." Owners of baseball clubs, to a great extent in formative days, supported the clubs purely from the standpoint of local pride and at loan to themselves.' The local idea of a ball club was far different from that of the present era. The enthusiasts of baseball were so loyal to the game that time and again they subscribed to the support of a losing team, hoping for better results, but above everything desirous of retaining the club in the city which it represented. Men were out of pocket season after season merely because they realized that joy which men have in dabbling in anything that pertains to athletics.
"When baseball needed encouragement and assistance in moments of that period of the national game's existence, Richter elaborated not the need of money, but the good of baseball and interested other men and still others in it. A later generation began to comment of baseball, not as a game but as something placarded with the dollar mark, because it is easier to dabble with figures than it is to go to a ball game and see how it is played and why it is won.
"The huge sum received for World Series contests have had their share in change opinion. A game over-financed in reputation will sere quicker than one which is fresh with the thrill of its own performance.
"Francis Richter lived baseball and for baseball. Glory to his memory! It was not a joke to him, not the butt of a lapper, but something which had to do with the inner life of the youth of the United States, and he fought for it because of the splendid sentiment which was created on the fields of Philadelphia where they played baseball for the sport of a wonderful pastime and cherished its memories as no other city cherishes them. They are then today, some of those old fellows, some of the pioneers, with the same fondness for the national pastime, and always had and the same delight in recalling the fun which they accomplished when they were younger.
"Richter had courage and he had conviction. He fought losing battles, but he fought them with a fertile mind that brought argument to defend his position. He was a good loser, too, and accepted the inevitable with the resignation of a man who hopes to be justified by the future and feels that he has been sincere in the present." (Sporting News, February 25, 1926. Mr. Richter died on February 12, 1926. He had hosted a Sporting News column, titled 'Casual Comment', largely dealing with the administrative side of the game, from December 15, 1921 - summer, 1925.)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Biographical Dictionary of American Sports,
-----------------1927 AL Reach Guide, pp. 244.------------------------------- 1992-95, suppiment: Communications
----------Frances Richter/Taylor Spink: 1912 World Series
Last edited by Bill Burgess; 12-07-2009 at 12:46 AM.
Francis Richter's wikipedia page; the free encyclopedia
Francis Richter (January 26, 1854 - February 12, 1926) was an American journalist who served as founder and editor of Sporting Life from its inception to its demise, and editor of the Reach Guide from its inception in 1901. Richter died the day after completing the 1926 edition of the Reach Guide. As a writer and associate of baseball officials, he was influential in the early development of the game.
Born in Philadelphia, Richter was a journalist from his youth. His early career as an amateur baseball player was an invaluable tool, which provided him with a rich supply of insight into the game and players' lives (Reach Guide, 1926).
In 1872 he began his career with the Philadelphia Day, and when that paper folded eight years later, he had already established his reputation as a successful managing editor in the journalistic world. He began writing for the Sunday World and started the nation's first newspaper sports department of the era while working at the Public Ledger. Richter helped form the original American Association of baseball in 1882 and to place the Philadelphia Athletics in it. The next year, becoming disgusted with the "Beer and Whiskey League" and its Sunday baseball, he helped organize the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League.
In 1883 Richter founded the Sporting Life, a weekly magazine devoted to coverage of all sports, with an emphasis on baseball. Richter hired correspondents from around the country. He was the first editor of the journal, which became the mouthpiece of baseball and a great force in the national pastime. Within a year circulation had grown to 20,000, and by 1886 it was at 40,000. Initially each issue had 16 pages and sold for ten cents.
On December 12, 1887, Richter and other baseball journalists formed the Base Ball Reporters Association of America, also referred to as the National Base Ball Reporters' Association, at Cincinnati, Ohio.
In 1902 Richter jumped ship to join with the American League's founders. He was a World Series official for many years, and wrote a history of baseball.
He warned of the potential problems of corruption in Sporting Life until 1917, when its doors were forever closed due the outbreak of World War I.
By the end of the first quarter of the 20th century, Richter had acquired a reputation as one of baseball's most influential personalities. In fact, he had acquired so much renown that in 1907 the National League offered him the presidency of the league. Richter declined the offer, wanting instead to promote baseball “by lift(ing) the game up to the heights” of a national pastime (Reach Guide, 1926, p. 351).
Richter succeeded in lifting the game to these heights, seeing the sport through its darkest scandal in 1920 after the Black Sox Scandal. He continued his prestigious writing career, always seeking to improve the national sport, until the day before his death.
Richter had roles in the promotion of baseball and sportsmanship, as a player's advocate in salary wars, as a force in the amalgamation of the National and American Association into a twelve-team National League in 1892, in the formation of a new National Agreement (where, however, he opposed the reserve clause as adopted), in prestigious rules committees, and as a mouthpiece against gambling. He had prominent roles in areas such as promotion, record-keeping and shaping of public opinion. He was a financial backer of the 1884 Union Association and its Philadelphia team. He declared the new league "the emancipator of enslaved players and the enemy of the reserve clause" (Voigt, 1966, p. 130).
After the failure of the Players League in 1890, Richter changed his allegiance, writing in the Sporting News that “Amidst all this noise and confusion the star ball player is the only one who can't lose, no matter which side wins" (Shaw, 2003).
He was the author of History and Records of Baseball: the American Nation's Chief Sport (Philadelphia: Sporting Life Publishing Co., 1914).
Richter died in his Philadelphia home on February 12, 1926 at the age of 71, the day after completing the 1926 edition of the Reach Official Guide. The cause of death was bronchial pneumonia. He was survived by his wife Helen and their two children, and was buried without fanfare.
Obituary in the 1926 Spalding Guide
Mr. Richter founded Sporting Life and was one of the best informed men in the world in regard to the game of Base Ball. He advocated changes in rules from time to time, assisted in the amalgamation of the American Association and the National League in 1891, and at one time was offered the presidency of the National League. For many years Mr. Richter edited Reach's American League Guide and was an advocate always of the higher ethics of professional sport. He was for clean Base Ball through and through, and the best policies for the game as a national pastime had no stronger supporter in all the coterie of great Base Ball writers who flourished when Base Ball was beginning to get away from its minor surroundings to its present position in sport.
Richter, F. Richter's History and Records of Baseball: The American Nation's Chief Sport. Philadelphia: Sporting Life Publishing Co., 1914.
Voigt, D. American Baseball: From Gentlemen's Sport to the Commissioner System. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1966.
This article is based on the Baseball Reference Bullpen article. The original can be viewed here. It is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.
Could some enterprising member discover the date of their last issue? We know it went out of business during WWI.
The last issue was probably April 28, 1917. At least, that's the last one I find scanned on the LA84 foundation website.
Great thread - very interesting reading.
Not to unnecessarily change the subject but, has anyone ever seen the movie ''The Sporting Life''?
Excellent British flic about rugby.
While browsing The Sporting Life today, I came upon this extremely sarcastic little paragraph, in which it takes a really snide, cheap shot at Al Spink. I didn't know that they were so competive with each other. And this was even 6 months before Spink started The Sporting News on March 17, 1886.
Maybe Spink decided to start his own vehicle so he could fight back on even terms on a more level playing field.
The Sporting Life, September 2, 1885, pp. 5.
OF ALL the idiotic stuff ever printed, the following from the St. Louis Sayings takes the bakery: "Larkin pays the Athletic managers to allow him to play. All he is working for now is a reputation." Oh, Lord, does the fool-killer ever visit St. Louis? If so, let him take a hack at Al Spink. This same genius informs the world that the "Philadelphia Club has so far this season made $60,000, while the Athletic Club has lost fully $70,000." With such teachers (?) the St. Louis public should be well posted in base ball.