August 15, 2002

THE PROFESSIONAL SEASON OF 1888. 03

The season of 1888, in the professional arena, was marked by several
events which placed it on record as the most noteworthy, known in the
thirteen years' history of the National League. In the first place it was
the inaugural year of the grand movement made by the President of the
Chicago Club, to extend the popularity of our national game beyond the
American continent; an event which exhibited the characteristic energy,
pluck, liberality and business enterprise of Mr. Spalding, in a very
marked manner; the grand success which the venture met with being a well
merited reward for the large financial outlay which he incurred in the
experiment. Secondly, the struggle for the championship of the League,
resulting as it did in the success of the New York club, gave to the East
a lead in the pennant races which they had not held since 1884, when the
Providence club won the championship, Chicago having held the honors in
1885 and 1886, and Detroit in 1887. The past season, too, excelled all
previous years in the vast assemblages of spectators who were gathered at
the grounds of the prominent clubs on holiday occasions; as also in the
immense aggregate of people who patronized the professional contests of
the year. It was also an exceptional year in regard to the close and
exciting contest for the League pennant, between the four leading clubs of
that organization; and at the end of the championship season the sequel of
the contest for the base ball championship of the world finished off the
campaign of 1888, in a manner that greatly added to the honors won by the
victorious League club from New York. The contest for the American
Association championship was also one of the interesting events of the
season, and one, too, which taught aspiring clubs a lesson which they can
well profit by; and that is, that success in championship contests is due
far more to able management, competent captaining, and thorough team work,
than to the gathering together of the strongest of star players in a club
team. In the League, in this respect, while the Boston club had invested,
at great financial cost, in securing the services of noted star players,
the Chicago club, though weakened by the release of players from their
team who had done yeoman service in their ranks for years, were yet able
to excel the picked team of star players of the Boston club, simply by
superiority in handling those they had left to them. In the Association
arena, too, a similar condition of things prevailed in the case of the St.
Louis and Brooklyn clubs, the costly investment of the Brooklyn club for
new players, only enabling them to reach second place in the pennant race,
while the "weakened"(?) St Louis team, by better conceited work together
were enabled to break the record by capturing the Association pennant for
the fourth successive season, something only equaled by the Boston club
under the reign of the old National Association in 1872, '73, '74, and '75.

An event of the season of 1888, also, was the widening the sphere of
professional club operations in the United States, by the inauguration of
the Texas League, which, though not as successful as desired in its first
year, nevertheless opened up a new and large territory for the occupation
of the professional clubs. Closing too, as the year did with a
commendable movement on the part of the League legislators to regulate the
salary system so as to get rid of several costly abuses; it may be justly
said that in no year since professional ball playing was officially
recognized, was there so much done to promote the welfare of the national
game as during the season of 1888.

The summary record of the season's work of the several professional
Leagues and Association prominent during the season of 1888, is as follows:

|Champion |Games |Per Cent. of
Leagues |Club. |Played |Victories
-------------------+------------+---------+----------
National League |New York | 532 | .641
American | | |
Association |St. Louis | 540 | .681
International | | |
Association | Syracuse | 433 | .718
Western | | |
Association | Des Moines | 458 | .648
Central League | Newark | 4*6[A] | .783
Southern League | Birmingham | 101 | .620
New England League | Lowell | 209 | .566
California League | Stockton | 268 | .615
Texas League | Dallas | 146 | .660
Tri-State League | Lima | 538 | .701

[**Proofreaders note A: * indecipherable number**]

| Number of Clubs.
| Began the | Ended the
Leagues | Season. | Season.
---------------------------+-------------+---------
National League | 8 | 8
American Association | 8 | 8
International Association | 8 | 8
Western Association | 8 | 7
Central League | 8 | 7
Southern League | 4 | 4
New England League | 7 | 4
California League | 4 | 4
Texas League | 6 | 4
Tri-State League | 10 | 10