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1876 New York Mutuals and Philadelphia Athletics

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  • 1876 New York Mutuals and Philadelphia Athletics

    The Mutuals and Athletics failed to make their last western swing of 1876. Both claimed that it was a financial hardship at the end of a tough year. The Athletics, in particular, claimed that injuries, heavy debts and strong competition for local entertainment dollars forced them from completing the league schedule. They were even willing to accommodate the other teams by giving them 80% of the gate if they would come to Philadelphia and play. Their opponents refused. In actuality, each had been eliminated from the pennant race and felt they could make more money with fewer costs by playing exhibition games closer to home.

    William Hulbert was in the midst of officially replacing Morgan Bulkeley as National League president and wanted to put his imprint on the league. Bulkeley, the Hartford club owner, was to an extent Hulbert’s mouthpiece and relinquished the position to him after only one year.

    Both teams were expelled. The decision was most disastrous considering that the total population base of New York and Philadelphia more than tripled the rest of the league combined. Moreover, the National League fielded only six teams for the next two seasons and had to settle for low revenue cities such as Providence, Syracuse, Troy and Worcester. However, Bulkeley’s team ended up playing its home games in profitable Brooklyn, a city in which Bulkeley had extensive financial ties.

    Interestingly, it was Bulkeley who first proposed the expulsion of the two clubs. His charge, though, focused on the tainted outcome of a contest between the two. Draw your own conclusion; however, no charges were ever filed against the clubs nor did a formal investigation take place.

    In 1882 the American Association, with a Philadelphia entry, joined the National League as a major league. Immediately, they drew even with the older league, about 400,000, with two less teams and 104 fewer games nonetheless. Stunningly, the Association hit a million in attendance the following year. The National League wouldn’t do so until 1887. The Association simply gave the fans what they wanted: Sunday games, liquor sales at the park and half the admission, 25 cents, of the National League. Realizing that the American Association was around to stay, the National League tightened its belt and moved their two weakest teams back to the expelled cities: Troy to New York and Worcester to Philadelphia.

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