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Depression of the 1890s

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  • Depression of the 1890s

    mlb took on a new face during the great depression of the 1930s but how about during the 1890s. how did things change?

    couple ideas:
    Near the end of 1892, National League team owners, en masse, released all their players. They had just merged with the American Association and wanted to cut payroll costs at the onset of the depression of the 1890s. Over the winter, officials set salary limits and cut player income across the board. The talent was forced to accept the new terms. This in large part led to the mass exodus to the AL in 1901. Clark Griffith, for one, was particularly irked by the wage ceiling and he became one of the foremost union men and, subsequently, at top recruiter for the AL.

    Like Larry MacPhail later, ban Johnson became innovative after taking over as president of the Western League in 1893 and re-establishing the league. His blueprint proved successful and he was able to court top talent (it also helped that other leagues were folding) and the WL started turning a profit which was quite astounding considering the depression. Hence, he survived where others didn't and was in the position to challenge the NL.

    any other factors?

  • #2
    The events of 1892 happened the year before the depression. I read in Koppett that the NL owners were expecting a windfall in 1892 because they no longer had the AA as a competitor, but it didn't work that way. The NL drew a half million more fans than in 1891, but they had four new franchises and three of those were decent draws. Four of the holdover teams drew less in 1892 than 1891, with New York and Chicago drawing about 60% of what they drew in 1891. Koppett said the main problem that the NL faced was that it decided on a split schedule, and fans didn't think the 2nd half was on the level. The 1st half drew well and the 2nd half drew poorly. The split schedule was dropped after 1892 and the NL increased its attendence each year until 1898 (this may have been influenced by the Spanish-American War). The league rebounded in 1899 and had a serious attendence decline in 1900 after four teams (Baltimore, Cleveland, Louisville and Washington) were contracted.

    I don't think the Panic of 1893 and the resulting depression had much of an effect on the National League. The majority of people affected were from the industral sector and the farms and I don't think these people were part of baseball's fan base in that era.
    The Panic may have had an effect on the Minor Leagues in rural areas, but I don't think it would have affected the larger cities though. I will have to check this out and see for sure.

    Comment


    • #3
      Events in 1892 didn't lead to the mass leavings of stars in 1901. That was 9 years away. The players jumped to the AL for two reasons. One they were paying more money and two the NL the year before had cut jobs. They went from 12 teams to 8 teams. They cut about 80 to 100 jobs from the upper levels of baseball.

      Comment


      • #4
        I think there were three major reasons that led to the events of 1892:

        1) The NL owners now had a monopoly and felt they could what they wanted to keep their costs done-such as reducing each teams roster from 15 to 13 players which meant less jobs and salaries could kept down.

        2) The NL owners were still seriously pissed about the Brotherhood war and wanted the players under their thimb.

        3) The 1892 season was not a success in the owners eyes.

        As Ubiquitous stated, contraction was a major reason for the launch of the AL to ML status. I think there were other factors also. The NL setup of the 1890s was too unwieldly. There was no realistic way that a 12 team league could be competitive. Three teams came in first place in decade, Brookoyn, Boston and Baltimore.
        There was also the artificialty of the races due to syndacalism. People laugh about the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, but look at what was happening with them.
        The NL had no real impetus to improve itself. After they quashed the AAs attempt to retool the AA in 1894, they had no reason to improve things. The rowdyism continued in the stands and on the field.

        I think that Ban Johnson realized that was a place for good baseball without the brawls, on the field and in the stands, and that that several cities who were being toyed with by the NL would be a good market for him.

        Comment


        • #5
          certainly nl owners were in a much different position in 1892 than they were in 1891 or 1890 - they were again atop the ladder by themselves and they instituted policies as such - this is one instance in a long chain of fluctuations of power between management and labor

          the tiered salary structure, with salary caps, was certainly a sticking point with the players - and one in particular who really deserves as much credit as any other for the quick ascent of the al - union vp clark griffith

          this was not a time in american business that was particularly kind to the workers and nl owners were no different from any other mogul - the players were particularly behind it in mlb with its monopoly, its weilding of the reserve clause and the blacklist - its almost singlehanded control over a players future - add to that a depression with collapsing minor league teams and leagues themselves - skilled ballplayers had few choices and, rightfully, their disgruntled level rose culminating in the events of 1900

          the players union began in june 1900 and from the beginning griffith urged repeatedly for nl players to refuse to sign a contract for 1901 and the union even drew up its own universal contract (which johnson would later accept along with the union itself) - the june meeting included an american federation of labor rep but in the end players did not join the afl but certainly that gained the attention of nl owners - the majority of players from each team joined the union and sights were set on including the minor leagues

          griffith had a couple confrontations with owners and at their december meeting the owners said flatly that they would not negotiate with them - that led to griffith allying with johnson and got the ball rolling - a list of their demands shows just how much control over everything the owners had
          increase in wage ceiling
          control over being traded
          limitation on reserve clause
          prevention of owners unjustly depriving players of a portion of their salary
          limit on suspensions
          payment of medical bills
          provision for an arbitration board
          adoption of players' universal contract
          provision that players could similarly void contract with 10-day notice
          club paying for uniforms

          a depression certainly has an effect on business - management and labor - its effects may be subtle (as in the 1890s) but it still reverberates throughout the industry
          Last edited by Brian McKenna; 12-03-2005, 12:28 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Anyone know of a good source for info about the Panic of 1893 and the Depression in the 1890's? I research that era's minor leagues and it would help to know when this began and when historians say it ended.

            Numerous minor leagues failed during the 1890's. The objective was to begin the season in April, last until the Decoration Day doubleheader, use those gate receipts to last until the July 4th doubleheader, and then hopefully limp through August.

            In many minor leagues of the 1890's nearly every team lost money. The ML's practically stole their best players every year and that led to the restructuring of the minors in 1902.
            "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
            "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

            Comment


            • #7
              I dont know anything about baseball in late 19th century.But i do know hot dogs ,popcorn and cokes were very very cheap back then.I bet tickets even cost a quarter.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by steveox
                I dont know anything about baseball in late 19th century.But i do know hot dogs ,popcorn and cokes were very very cheap back then.I bet tickets even cost a quarter.
                Funny you write that, because hot dogs were available at ballparks for the first time in St. Louis in the year of the Panic itself (1893- thank you Herr Von der Ahe), popcorn didn't really take off nationally till the 1890's, and Coke went from a (fairly) local drink in 1890 to the national favorite by a landslide in 1900.

                I'm too lazy to look up the costs.
                "Here's a crazy thought I've always had: if they cut three fingers off each hand, I'd really be a great hitter because then I could level off better." Paul Waner (lifetime .333 hitter, 3,152 lifetime hits.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by bkmckenna
                  certainly nl owners were in a much different position in 1892 than they were in 1891 or 1890 - they were again atop the ladder by themselves and they instituted policies as such - this is one instance in a long chain of fluctuations of power between management and labor

                  this was not a time in american business that was particularly kind to the workers and nl owners were no different from any other mogul - the players were particularly behind it in mlb with its monopoly, its weilding of the reserve clause and the blacklist - its almost singlehanded control over a players future - add to that a depression with collapsing minor league teams and leagues themselves - skilled ballplayers had few choices and, rightfully, their disgruntled level rose culminating in the events of 1900

                  the players union began in june 1900 and from the beginning griffith urged repeatedly for nl players to refuse to sign a contract for 1901 and the union even drew up its own universal contract (which johnson would later accept along with the union itself) - the june meeting included an american federation of labor rep but in the end players did not join the afl but certainly that gained the attention of nl owners - the majority of players from each team joined the union and sights were set on including the minor leagues

                  griffith had a couple confrontations with owners and at their december meeting the owners said flatly that they would not negotiate with them - that led to griffith allying with johnson and got the ball rolling - a list of their demands shows just how much control over everything the owners had
                  increase in wage ceiling
                  control over being traded
                  limitation on reserve clause
                  prevention of owners unjustly depriving players of a portion of their salary
                  limit on suspensions
                  payment of medical bills
                  provision for an arbitration board
                  adoption of players' universal contract
                  provision that players could similarly void contract with 10-day notice
                  club paying for uniforms

                  a depression certainly has an effect on business - management and labor - its effects may be subtle (as in the 1890s) but it still reverberates throughout the industry
                  I agree with much of what you say about labor and managment of that period. I think this period was among the worst in American history to be a laborer. This Panic was part of the boom and bust cycles that plagued the nation from the time of Andrew Jackson until World War II.

                  I'm kind of surprised that the AFL was courting baseball. The AFL was pretty elitist and the stature of pro athletes at that time was pretty suspect.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    A quarter was what most minor league teams charged for admission. Some tacked on another ten cents to sit in the grandstand. Ladies preferred to sit in the grandstand for protection against the rain, wind, sun and the rowdy element over in the bleachers.

                    Many minor league clubs offered Ladies Days with free admission, or ladies always only paid 10 or 15 cents admission. The thinking was try to get the entire family to the ballpark. It was not unusual for hundreds of women to attend a minor league game in the 1890's. Many of them were young and single and very keen on the ballplayers.
                    "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                    "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      part of the think was to get the ladies to the park to:
                      1) spur male attendance
                      2) try to curb rowdiness

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Buzzaldrin
                        Funny you write that, because hot dogs were available at ballparks for the first time in St. Louis in the year of the Panic itself (1893- thank you Herr Von der Ahe), popcorn didn't really take off nationally till the 1890's, and Coke went from a (fairly) local drink in 1890 to the national favorite by a landslide in 1900.

                        I'm too lazy to look up the costs.
                        buzz - you're giving him too much credit

                        wasn't ginger ale the first big soda? just asking

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Well, I figured it wouldn't hurt to be nice once in a while. And as to ginger ale- what we got in the states was Johnny Loughlin's modern version of the the roughly 1850's Irish standard (which was big, but in the states soda water was the drink). Loughlin was Canadian and came up with his spin in 1890 in Toronto, but he didn't really market Canada Dry Giner Ale on a large scale until 1907.

                          Charles Hires had been getting attention for his root beer since the Philly Expo of 1876, however.
                          "Here's a crazy thought I've always had: if they cut three fingers off each hand, I'd really be a great hitter because then I could level off better." Paul Waner (lifetime .333 hitter, 3,152 lifetime hits.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Buzzaldrin
                            Well, I figured it wouldn't hurt to be nice once in a while. And as to ginger ale- what we got in the states was Johnny Loughlin's modern version of the the roughly 1850's Irish standard (which was big, but in the states soda water was the drink). Loughlin was Canadian and came up with his spin in 1890 in Toronto, but he didn't really market Canada Dry Giner Ale on a large scale until 1907.

                            Charles Hires had been getting attention for his root beer since the Philly Expo of 1876, however.
                            it sounds like you were there

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Sure was, I am 157 years old.

                              Hey, did you know that the Athletics were called the Expos for a few years after the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition?

                              Ok, that's a lie, but I HAVE to start telling people that.
                              "Here's a crazy thought I've always had: if they cut three fingers off each hand, I'd really be a great hitter because then I could level off better." Paul Waner (lifetime .333 hitter, 3,152 lifetime hits.

                              Comment

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