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  • The Shaky Peace of 1903

    The Shaky Peace of 1903

    In January 1900 Ban Johnson and Western League (renamed the American League in 1900) owners decided that it wasn’t in their best interests to re-sign the National Agreement tying them to the National League and all of organized baseball. This does not mean that they immediately began tampering with players already signed within organized baseball; in fact, the American League did not sign any National Leaguers until 1901 (that we know of - this very well may have happened covertly).

    Further setting into motion the events of 1901, the players’ union solidified itself in 1900. On January 28, 1901 Ban Johnson formally declared his intention to operate the American League as a major league. In February a slew of National League players jumped their contracts and signed with American League clubs. With this onslaught the totality of professional baseball was thrown into an upheaval. The National League suspended the National Agreement and joined the signing fray. Of course, this threatened the Eastern League and the other established leagues.

    This was a godsend for the players. The American League was offering multiple year contracts and was doing so without a reserve clause. All leagues had to offer greater financial incentives and otherwise appease their talent. Players would take a signing bonus from one manager in one league and then do the same in another league. The action on the field in 1901 and ’02 was only half the story. Newspapers were filled with articles of disputes between leagues, executives, managers and owners and discussions of lawsuits.

    By the middle of 1902, the difficulties were particularly acrimonious in New York. There, three parties merged which had enough venom among them on a personal and professional level to present an aggressive front in the fight against the American League – Andrew Freedman, John Brush and John McGraw of the Giants. McGraw, the American League Baltimore Orioles manager, tried to bring the American League down from the inside. He took about half of his Orioles’ roster with him to the National League in July 1902. The American League then made plans to move into New York and threatened to do the same in Pittsburgh.

    Freedman and Brush were intent on keeping Johnson out of New York City. Despite an exhaustive effort by Freedman to block the AL via his political and Tammany connections, it soon became clear that the American League would be placing a franchise in New York. All this particularly disturbed McGraw and Brush (who was in the process of purchasing the Giants outright from Freedman).

    (Freedman was in tight with Tammany Hall, the Democratic stronghold which controlled New York City expenditures. He joined right out of college and was good friends with Tammany boss Richard Crocker. Freedman had gained his wealth through real estate and construction and, as such, was among the city’s leaders in each respect. Incidentally, those are the two elements Johnson needed to court so Freedman was in a perfect position to block him. Freedman also sat on the policy board and the finance committee of Tammany and was on the board of directors of the company building the city's subway system. Potentially, Freedman was a powerful foe for Johnson indeed. But, a new mayor was elected in NYC in 1902, Seth Low, a reformist, and Crocker lost his post. Factionalism sprung up within Tammany Hall with one such faction offering Johnson a site for a ballpark.)

    PEACE PACT

    From January 9-10, 1903, the National and American leagues met in Cincinnati at the St. Nicholas Hotel to discuss a possible truce. The representing parties included:

    National League president Harry Pulliam
    Frank DeHaas Robison of the St. Louis Cardinals
    James A. Hart of the Chicago Cubs
    Garry Hermann of the Cincinnati Reds

    American League president Ban Johnson
    Charles Comiskey of the Chicago White Stockings
    Henry Killilea of the Boston Pilgrims
    Charlie Somers of the Cleveland Naps

    The parties came to terms, signing an agreement which for the most part would set the structure of organized baseball for the next two decades:
    -the AL was granted a franchise in NYC
    -a new MLB governing body was established – the National Commission
    -each team will respect the roster of another
    -the reserve clause will be reinstated
    -the players’ union would lose the concessions they had gained since 1901

    and a few lesser, but essential, topics were settled:
    -each league would carry eight clubs
    -the foul-strike rule, in force in the NL, will be adopted by the AL
    -the leagues would have separate but coordinated schedules
    -each league will have common player contracts

    The essence of this agreement (the new National Agreement) was repackaged and presented to the minor leagues. It is signed by the National Association of Professional Minor Leagues (the minor leagues had organized in late 1901 in response to the major league withdraw from the previous National Agreement), thus reforming organized baseball in the traditional sense.

    (The major leagues would later formally establish a playoff between respective pennant winners. This only occurred after the settlement of yet another New York Giants attempt to break the peace between the leagues in 1904.)

    The only major to-do left for the leagues was to assign the rights of players whose contracts were under dispute. Some players had signed multiple contracts, some with both major leagues and some with minor league clubs as well. These signings which occurred over the winter of 1902-03 had to be settled. For example, in 1902 pitcher George Mullin was being sued for accepting money under false pretenses. The Fort Wayne, Indiana club claimed that Mullin had taken money from them and from the Detroit Tigers as well. Obviously, since Fort Wayne was suing, Mullin had ended up pitching for Detroit in 1902. A total of sixteen contracts were under dispute in January 1901.

    Awarded to the American League:
    Sam Crawford to Detroit, loser
    Wid Conroy to New York, loser
    George Davis to Chicago, loser New York Giants
    Lefty Davis to New York, loser
    Ed Delahanty to Washington, loser New York Giants
    Wild Bill Donovan to Detroit, loser
    Kid Elberfeld to Detroit, loser New York Giants
    Dave Fultz to New York, loser New York Giants
    Wee Willie Keeler to New York, loser
    Napoleon Lajoie to Cleveland, loser New York Giants

    Awarded to the National League:
    Frank Bowerman to New York, loser St. Louis Browns
    Rudy Hulswitt to Philadelphia, loser
    Tommy Leach to Pittsburgh, loser
    Christy Mathewson to New York, loser St. Louis Browns
    Sam Mertes to New York, loser
    Harry Smith to Pittsburgh, loser
    Vic Willis to Boston, loser

    The players who had received advance money from clubs they were not assigned to were expected to repay the cash.

    FALLOUT FROM THE PEACE PACT

    The Pirates were big losers at the peace conference. The players Clark Griffith had earlier raided from the Pirates for his upcoming franchise in New York were in the end assigned to the Highlanders. However, as noted Pittsburgh management was quite happy that the American League backed off of placing a franchise in the city. It should also be noted that the Pirates were strong enough to win the 1903 pennant anyway.

    The Giants weren’t as forgiving though despite retaining the rights to Mathewson. George Davis, Delahanty, Elberfeld, Fultz and Lajoie were slated, at least in the mind of McGraw and Brush, to join the Giants in 1903. They were not pleased to have lost out on the ballplayers.
    Brush popped off in the press as soon as he got word concerning the events in Cincinnati. Within a week he filed for and had an injunction served on National League president Pulliam to keep the league from ratifying the peace accord. In the end he dropped all his legal objects on January 21 and the accord ratified the following morning.

    ED DELAHANTY AND GEORGE DAVIS

    In the fall of 1902 Delahanty had signed two contracts, one with Washington and a three-year deal with the Giants for $18,000. The New York Giants advanced him $4,000. One of the factors depressing Delahanty in 1903 was his assignment to Washington. He didn’t particularly want to be there. Or, it might be fair to say that he preferred the deal offered by the Giants. Plus, Delahanty no longer had the $4,000 to return to the Giants.

    In December 1902 McGraw presented his roster for the upcoming season to the press. On it were the names of Elberfeld, Fultz and Lajoie. Also at issue for the Giants was the assignment of George Davis who had jumped to the Chicago White Sox for 1902 but was seeking to return to New York. Similar to Delahanty, he had taken money from the Giants but in the end was assigned to the White Sox.

    By late-March 1903, Delahanty, $4,500, and George Davis, $2,775, still hadn’t paid back the money they had accepted from the Giants. Instead, Davis decided unilaterally to join the Giants for spring training in Savannah, Georgia. The Giants accepted his presence (McGraw, for one. actually encouraging it) in defiance of the recent peace agreement. Delahanty, for his part, was refusing to report to the Senators.

    Major League Baseball’s new governing committee, the National Commission, began weighing options to punish and possibly blacklist the players. Garry Herrmann stated that the Reds would not take the field against the Giants if they were intent on playing the disputed players. Ban Johnson and Pulliam went a step further, giving the players an ultimatum to return to their assigned teams or be banned from the game.

    Under pressure, Delahanty reported to Washington (though Delahanty’s troubles in 1903 were only beginning). Davis consulted with his lawyer, Hall of Famer Monte Ward, who advised him that the Chicago contract was no good. Davis, having left the Giants camp, then returned to McGraw’s ball club. With that Davis stood in defiance of the National Commission, leaving the issue in the hands of his lawyer.

    KID ELBERFELD

    Meanwhile, another issue was brewing in Detroit. On January 12, 1903 new Tigers manager Win Mercer committed suicide. Mercer had started 33 games for the Tigers in 1902, before being named to replace Frank Dwyer. Ed Barrow was hired as the Tigers manager. His first personnel trouble came from disgruntled shortstop Kid Elberfeld who was unhappy with his assignment back to Detroit after he had signed a two-year, $9,000 deal with the Giants. Elberfeld began to cause trouble within the ranks, having difficulties with and drawing the ire of Barrow and team captain Heinie Smith.

    Nicknamed the “Tabasco Kid,” Elberfeld was a McGraw-type player. For one, he was particularly fond of the 1890s Baltimore Orioles and their style of play. He prided himself on adopting the aggressive style of the old Orioles; as a result, Elberfeld would be ejected for 21 games as a player and more as a manager and coach.

    When the season started, Elberfeld caught fire, batting .431 in the first three weeks. However, his play and attitude soon tanked. Barrow soon claimed that Elberfeld was throwing games with indifferent play. Particularly appalling was the shoddy play by the Tigers in a seven-game series against the Browns:

    May 26 at Detroit
    The Tigers win the only contest of the series, a 3-0 shutoutby Frank Kitson.

    May 28 at Detroit
    The Tigers lose 7-2 because of shoddy fielding in the first inning. Elberfeld had one error and a hit.

    May 29 at Detroit
    The Tigers lose 7-3 after allowing five unearned runs in the second inning. (Couldn’t locate a box score to cite Elberfeld’s play)

    May 30, Game One at St. Louis
    Elberfeld’s wild throw home allows the winning run to score in the ninth in a 2-1 loss. (1 error, 1 hit)

    May 30, Game Two at St. Louis
    Tigers lose 5-0. Elberfeld place one hit and has another error.

    June 1 at Detroit
    Tigers lose 7-6 and Elberfeld has another error.

    On June 2 prior to the final game of the series, Barrow suspended Elberfeld and fined him $200 for “loaferish conduct." Rumors flew around the league concerning Elberfeld’s indifferent play and it was alleged that he was “playing for his release,” a form of game-fixing. It was also alleged that Elberfeld had played indifferently against the Browns because they had offered him a slot on their team.

    For his part, Elberfeld swore that he wouldn’t take the field with barrow again and he threatened to jump to a California club if a trade wasn’t arranged. On June 8 league officials (Johnson, Comiskey, Fred Postal of Washington and Sam Angus of Detroit) met to discuss the Elberfeld situation and how best to deal with it. In all probability the group decided it was best to trade the disgruntled player, but not to the browns or Giants.

    Clark Griffith of the Highlanders saw an opportunity. He approached Barrow about a trade but he wanted Dave Fultz and Wid Conroy. Since Griffith wasn’t interested in trading either, he sought out Angus for trade discussions. On June 10 the deal was announced. Elberfeld was traded for Ernie Courtney and an aging Herman Long. It was the Highlanders’ first trade since moving to New York from Baltimore.

    FALLOUT OF THE ELBERFELD TRADE

    The Giants viewed the Elberfeld trade as a personal affront. They saw it as a direct American League action to siphon fans from the Giants to the cross-town Highlanders. Brush once again started banging Pulliam’s ear. In short, he wanted to once again derail the peace agreement.

    In late June Pulliam sent a letter to Ban Johnson charging the American league with violating the “spirit” of the peace agreement. The actual letter of the pact wasn’t violated since Elberfeld was assigned to the Tigers who could dispose of him any way they liked. Brush had also asked and received permission from Pulliam to field shortstop George Davis. Davis played for the Giants on June 26. Herrmann was livid, writing a letter and publicly questioning Pulliam’s motives and actions in potentially derailing the peace agreement.

    Comiskey obtained two injunctions in the Davis case. In all, Davis appeared in only four games for the Giants before sitting out the rest of the season and then joining the White Sox in 1904.

    Brush kept harping on the losses of Elberfeld, Davis and Delahanty. In the meantime Elberfeld assaulted a waiter and was arrested on July 9. The following day Brush obtained a temporary injunction preventing Elberfeld from playing with the Highlanders. Elberfeld rejoined the Highlanders on June 15 after the New York Supreme Court dissolved the injunction as there was no cause.

    The saga of 1903 would repeat itself in the following season as Brush and McGraw would once again stand in defiance of the best interests of Major League Baseball. With the Highlanders driving for the pennant in 1904, they would refuse to enter into post season play. Their hatred of the American League far outweighed any sensibilities to the contrary, even considerable financial benefits.

  • #2
    This is great stuff, Brian. I've been following the Tigers for years, reading everything about the team I can get my hands on, and this is the first I've read about the problems with Kid Elberfeld.

    Great as always....thanks.
    "Hey Mr. McGraw! Can I pitch to-day?"

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    • #3
      Thanks, I heard about Elberfeld in 1903 so I started looking at it, planning to write something. But, I quickly realized that his story was only part of a much bigger story in 1903.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Brian McKenna View Post
        Thanks, I heard about Elberfeld in 1903
        I refuse to believe you're 105 years old, Brian.
        "I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm playing it."
        Carl Yastrzemski

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        • #5
          Outstanding Post

          Outstanding post. I'm very intested in the formation of the American League. I consider the creation of the AL leading to the peace agreement for the 1903 season as my usual starting year of MLB.

          Couple points and questions, Brian.

          I like your reference of the political connections where Tammany Hall to prevent the AL from putting a franchise in New York. Didn't Ban Johnson have to more or less 'accept' two owners of the Highlanders who had dubious histories? Was this a condition of Tammany Hall (or Freedman/Brush) that he had to accept them as owners?

          One, how could the Giants claim some of those players themselves, such as Lajoie and Delahanty, when they had contracts with other NL teams? weren't both under contract with the Phillies? It seems Freedman, Brush, and McGraw (Larry, Moe, Curly) were raiding NL teams as well ina sense, doesn't it?

          Second, who all did the Pirates lose of consequence? Wagner and Clarke were the prizes of course but wasn't Barney Dreyfuss paying them above the 'standard' wage of the times already (which is another point below)? Do you feel that Ban Johnson agreed not to raid the Pirates in an effort to upset the balance of the NL? That is what I've always heard and thought.

          One point you didn't mention that I think was critical to the times were how hard those Phillies were hit (Lajoie, Delahanty, Flick, etc). Didn't the Phillies take to the courts to obtain an injunction against those players playing for anyone other then the PHillies while in Philadelphia? It also seems the Phillies pushed the envelope in regards to the Reserve Clause to the point that other owners, both NL and AL became alarmed. Only pressure from other owners caused the Phillies to drop this efforts.

          The second point I'd like to make is that the NL kind of brought this on themselves and made it easier for Ban Johnson's AL to raid them with their penny pinching pay scale they had instituted after an earlier war. Didn't they create a salary scale of A, B, C players with defined low pay levels? This made it easier for the AL to offer higher salaries to NL players along with the lack of a Reserve Clause.

          All in all, an excellent post. Great job. I'd love to see more discusion on this topic.

          Yankees Fan Since 1957

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          • #6
            Originally posted by yanks0714 View Post
            One point you didn't mention that I think was critical to the times were how hard those Phillies were hit (Lajoie, Delahanty, Flick, etc). Didn't the Phillies take to the courts to obtain an injunction against those players playing for anyone other then the PHillies while in Philadelphia?
            The Phils lost Lajoie, Flick, SS Monte Cross, and pitchers Bill Duggleby, Chick Fraser and Bill Bernard to the A's in 1901. Delahanty defected to Washington the next year. In 1902, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the option clause held by the Phillies on the players that defected to the A's was valid and issued an injunction declaring that those players could not play for the A's. Duggleby and Fraser returned to the Phillies, while Ban Johnson shuffled Lajoie, Flick and Bernard to Cleveland and ordered those players to stay out of the court's jurisdiction. Essentially, whenever Cleveland came to Philadelphia to play the A's, Lajoie, Flick and Bernard would have a short vacation and would just stay out of Pennsylvania. The injunction did not effect Delahanty since his jump to Washington was out of the PA court's jurisdiction

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            • #7
              I thought it was amusing how Lajoie had to keep out of Pennsylvania to avoid being arrested! He would go through all sorts of motions trying to find trains that circumvented the state!
              "Hey Mr. McGraw! Can I pitch to-day?"

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              • #8
                Originally posted by yanks0714 View Post
                Second, who all did the Pirates lose of consequence? Wagner and Clarke were the prizes of course but wasn't Barney Dreyfuss paying them above the 'standard' wage of the times already (which is another point below)? Do you feel that Ban Johnson agreed not to raid the Pirates in an effort to upset the balance of the NL? That is what I've always heard and thought.
                I've heard that Johnson wanted to upset the balance of power in the N.L., but Johnson also issued a hands off policy towards Pittsburgh because he was hoping to convince Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss to jump to the American League. The Sporting News mentioned this a few times before Dreyfuss finally announced he'd be staying in the N.L. Not long after, Johnson lifted his hands off policy and raided the Pirates just as he had the other N.L. teams.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Seamhead View Post
                  I've heard that Johnson wanted to upset the balance of power in the N.L., but Johnson also issued a hands off policy towards Pittsburgh because he was hoping to convince Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss to jump to the American League. The Sporting News mentioned this a few times before Dreyfuss finally announced he'd be staying in the N.L. Not long after, Johnson lifted his hands off policy and raided the Pirates just as he had the other N.L. teams.
                  If Dreyfuss had jumped to the Al, which of the AL teams would have been eliminated? Johnson badly wanted an AL entry in the AL as well. The Baltimore fiasco allowed him to move them to New York eventually.

                  I suspect Washington would have been the city that Pittsburgh would have replaced.

                  Yankees Fan Since 1957

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Victory Faust View Post
                    I thought it was amusing how Lajoie had to keep out of Pennsylvania to avoid being arrested! He would go through all sorts of motions trying to find trains that circumvented the state!
                    I've also heard that Lajoie and company would just go to the beach in Atlantic City while his club was playing in Philly.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by yanks0714 View Post
                      I like your reference of the political connections where Tammany Hall to prevent the AL from putting a franchise in New York. Didn't Ban Johnson have to more or less 'accept' two owners of the Highlanders who had dubious histories? Was this a condition of Tammany Hall (or Freedman/Brush) that he had to accept them as owners?
                      Ban Johnson set out to take Baltimore franchise to NY in 1903. Under Johnson authority, Clark Griffith and John McGraw had been searching for a plot to place a ballpark since at least 1901.

                      It was a circumvention around Freedman. Johnson had to deal with whomever could secure him a site for a ballplark. He virtually gave the team away, selling it to Joseph Gordon, a coal magnate, for $18K. Soon thereafter, it was apparent Gordon was fronting for two notorious Tammany figures Frank Farrell and Bill Devery.

                      Factionalism sprun up in Tammany and one such faction offered johnson a site for a ballpark - which no one believed could house a ballpark - the sale of the club was brokered on march 11, 1903 - 500 men worked day and night to build the ballpark but they still weren't done on opening day - right field was a sinkhole and was roped off much of 1903 and never really settled until 1904

                      One, how could the Giants claim some of those players themselves, such as Lajoie and Delahanty, when they had contracts with other NL teams? weren't both under contract with the Phillies? It seems Freedman, Brush, and McGraw (Larry, Moe, Curly) were raiding NL teams as well ina sense, doesn't it?
                      It certainly does seem like that. Reading the newspapers from 1902 into 1903 you see that multiple NL clubs are claiming players (In the original post I was planning on noting every disputed player and the team claiming him but it got too complicated; for example, Bowerman was signed by the Giants and Browns and another team that I can't think of right now) - much of which you note centers with the Giants. I was a little shock when I saw McGraw's roster in December 1902 and it included Lajoie, as I'd never heard of his connection there.

                      It probably should also be noted that the players had a great deal to do with this. They were talking with multiple parties and accepting cash wherever they could. I can't blame them as things were running amok. Get the money while you can and sort it out later. This probably lead to some of Delahanty's stress because he couldn't repay the bonus to the Giants.

                      Second, who all did the Pirates lose of consequence? Wagner and Clarke were the prizes of course but wasn't Barney Dreyfuss paying them above the 'standard' wage of the times already (which is another point below)? Do you feel that Ban Johnson agreed not to raid the Pirates in an effort to upset the balance of the NL? That is what I've always heard and thought.
                      dreyfuss paid his players well and had a decent relationship with them - when griffith went to carnegie, penn. to entice honus wagner in february 1901 wagner hid at a friend's house (or hotel) because he knew griffith would talk him into jumping

                      this is an amusing quote by comiskey after hearing dreyfuss complain about the attempt to sign wagner "“Wouldn’t that make a brass statue laugh, to see big Hans running to little Barney with tears on his cheeks begging him to keep a 110-pounder like Griffith from kidnapping him?”

                      after mcgraw decimated the baltimore franchise in mid 1902 griffith clipped the pirates for pitchers Jack Chesbro and Jesse Tannehill, catcher Jack O’Connor, third baseman Wid Conroy and outfielder Lefty Davis

                      part of the american league's threats that led to the peace agreement in 1903 involved entering the pittsburgh territory - they used that as a bargaining chip to get into new york

                      One point you didn't mention that I think was critical to the times were how hard those Phillies were hit (Lajoie, Delahanty, Flick, etc). Didn't the Phillies take to the courts to obtain an injunction against those players playing for anyone other then the PHillies while in Philadelphia? It also seems the Phillies pushed the envelope in regards to the Reserve Clause to the point that other owners, both NL and AL became alarmed. Only pressure from other owners caused the Phillies to drop this efforts.
                      I intentionally didn't mention this case as there were quite a few disputes from 1901-02. I'm also not sure how important one was above the others, though I realize the names here are catchy and that it drew a lot of publicity. Each case was important to each party at the time.

                      When the American League declared itself a major league after the 1900 season, it began offering lucrative contracts to entice talent away from the National League. The upstart league particularly hurt the Phillies. They lost Napoleon Lajoie, Bill Bernard, Chick Fraser and Elmer Flick to the cross-town Athletics. Washington lured Big Ed Delahanty away. Lajoie, for one, was awarded a three-year, $24,000 contract by A’s owner Connie Mack.

                      Immediately, the contract jumpers shined in the new league. Bernard and Fraser won a combined 37 games in 1901. Lajoie and Delahanty would win the American League’s first two batting crowns. Lajoie also won the Triple Crown that first season.

                      The Phillies sought redress from the legal system. On April 21, 1902 a Pennsylvania court issued an injunction preventing Lajoie, Bernard, and Fraser from playing for a team other than the Phillies. It was hand delivered on opening day at Baltimore’s Orioles Park at the end of the 7th inning.

                      Ban Johnson simply assigned Lajoie, Bernard and Flick to Cleveland. Fraser jumped back to the Phillies. Flick had already jumped after the 1901 season and was not included in the original lawsuit.

                      Ohio courts refused to acknowledge the Pennsylvania injunction; however, Lajoie and Bernard were still barred from playing in Philadelphia. Whenever the Blues traveled to Philly, the pair just went to the beaches at Atlantic City for a mini vacation. All was settled after the two leagues made peace in 1903 with the signing of the National Agreement.

                      The second point I'd like to make is that the NL kind of brought this on themselves and made it easier for Ban Johnson's AL to raid them with their penny pinching pay scale they had instituted after an earlier war. Didn't they create a salary scale of A, B, C players with defined low pay levels? This made it easier for the AL to offer higher salaries to NL players along with the lack of a Reserve Clause.
                      clark griffith had been pushing for unionizing since 1897 - he was antsy and he was a very intelligent guy - he had led player battles in the minors as well - at one time he supposedly joined cap anson in trying to resurrect the old american association - grif also approached chicago president jim hart about seceding from the national league and starting their own league - grif started pushing the union thing hard in 1899 but the timing wasn't right - he got to be labeled as a trouble maker and chicago even considered shipping him to louisville for rube waddell to get rid of him - anyway grif was extremely vocal in 1900 and implored all men not to sign any contracts for 1901 even before the union was formed in june 1900 - in july the union set their agenda and one of the stipulations was that no one would sign a contract until the union said it was okay - the union eventually spoke for national league, american league and eastern league players - the union even drew up what they called as the universal contract - it did not include a reserve clause - johnson adopted this contract

                      As you noted, Griffith's main beef was that salary scale.

                      After the war ended killing off the Players League and American Association, the NL taxed each club 10% of their profits through 1895. The owners used this as a means to say that since the players started all this mess with the Brotherhood, they would be forced to pay via reduced salaries. Even after the debt was paid in 1895, the owners kept salaries down.

                      Also as you noted, the NL shot itself in the foot after the PL crisis. The AA disbanded as well, thus, leaving the NL alone at the top. Since the NL owners, among others, had lost money during the period, they were intent on squashing salaries to help defray costs.

                      This worked for a while since there was only one ML. Men like Clark Griffith began to push hard for a union after he rolled off some good seasons but didn't see any appreciable salary hikes.

                      By the end of the 1890s, ideas were floating around the country about intruding on the NL's monopoly. Minor league executives hatched plans to unite whole leagues, expel the weak franchises and declare themselves a major league. Ideas also floated about unearthing the old AA and competing once again with the NL.

                      When things became heated with the upsurge of the WL/AL, NL execs started to woo the new AA (which was only an on-paper entity). Part of the NL's plan was to give the AA major status - at least the NL felt secure that it could control the new AA rather than Ban Johnson.
                      Last edited by Brian McKenna; 04-28-2008, 08:39 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by yanks0714 View Post
                        If Dreyfuss had jumped to the Al, which of the AL teams would have been eliminated? Johnson badly wanted an AL entry in the AL as well. The Baltimore fiasco allowed him to move them to New York eventually.

                        I suspect Washington would have been the city that Pittsburgh would have replaced.
                        At various times both Washington and Detroit were considered the front runners for a move to Pittsburgh. In fact, had Johnson gotten his way, he would have moved the Senators to Pittsburgh and the Tigers to Cincinnati, but the peace pact kept him out of Pittsburgh and he couldn't find the backers he needed in Cincinnati to take over the Tigers. One interesting side note about Detroit is that the city became more valuable to Organized Baseball over time, so much so that when the "Insurrectos" (Harry Frazee, Charles Comiskey, and Colonels Ruppert and Huston) threatened to secede from the AL and join the NL, forming an 11-team league, they targeted Detroit in which to place the 12th NL team to directly compete with the Tigers. Of course, none of that happened, but Frank Navin practically soiled himself at the thought of a second team in Detroit (or so the papers said).

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