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Poaching Outside the Reserve List

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  • Poaching Outside the Reserve List

    The reserve clause was first approved on September 29, 1879. Initially, each team was permitted to reserve five men for 1880. These players were off limits to any bidder.

    Eventually, the allotted # of reserves was increased:

    1880 - 5 players
    1883 - 11 players
    1885 - 12 players
    1887 - 14 players
    1892 - 15 players
    1893 - 14 players
    1899 - 18 players

    Remember that this is not the era of 25-man rosters.

    My question are:
    -How often to opposing clubs go after another team's nonreserved players?
    -Was it common or did National League clubs respect one another's right to all their players during the 1880s?
    -How many really good players did the typical club own (after 1882) outside of the 11 they were entitled to reserve?

    For amusement, here is the list of the game's first reserved players for 1880.

    Boston Red Caps
    Tommy Bond
    Jack Burdock
    John O'Rourke
    Pop Snyder
    Ezra Sutton

    Buffalo Bisons
    John Clapp
    Bill Crowley
    Pud Galvin
    Hardy Richardson
    Oscar Walker

    Chicago White Stockings
    Cap Anson
    Silver Flint
    Frank Hankinson
    Joe Quest
    Ned Williamson

    Cleveland Blues
    Jack Glasscock
    Doc Kennedy
    Jim McCormick
    Lee Richmond
    Orator Shaffer

    Providence Grays
    Paul Hines
    Mike McGeary
    Joe Start
    John Ward
    George Wright

    Troy Trojans
    Ed Caskin
    John Cassidy
    Jake Evans
    Bob Ferguson
    Fred Goldsmith

  • #2
    This makes an excellent research project for someone to track down the comings and goings of players NOT reserved for the following season. Did they stay or move on? And were those 30 players reserved for the 1880 season the so-called All Stars of the NL in 1880? Four of them were catchers I see - Clapp, Snyder, Flint and Kennedy.

    My hunch is the NL increased the number of reserved players per team from only 5 to 11 because players had too much freedom, they could jump to the AA, and they were being paid too much. This trend led to the Brotherhood union and later the Players League.

    I may be wrong but I think NL teams in the 1880's could not afford to own any good players who were not reserved until the preseason began. I'm guessing four or five players vied for the final two roster spots and the losers were released. The winners earned monthly salaries and less than the reserved players.

    At the end of the season players might play harder in order to win a reserved spot on the roster for the next season. Two best friends could be competing for that 15th spot.
    "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
    "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."


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