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First Professional Baseball League - 1871 First Professional Baseball League - 1871

Baseball's Start - Early Professional Baseball History brought fans into the ballpark

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Since the pioneering National Association was organized in 1871, more than 20,000 players have played in the major leagues, and well over one billion fans have streamed to games at the ballparks. And indeed, the game's best assets have always been its players and fans. As we go pass the year 2000, it's always interesting to peer back into the past.

Baseball History In 1876 the still existing National League was founded to replace the poorly financed and organized National Association, which lasted just five seasons - 1871-1875. The leading players of the day - Late 1800s: By - Instant On-line Accesses to Baseball History

Bear in mind teams played 20-30 games in 1871 and 50-60 games per year during the years 1872-75

* Bill Craver, Catcher/IF - Baltimore Canaries & Philadelphia Phillies - a hustling, fleet-footed running catcher and second baseman, the 5-ft, 9-inch, 160-pounder hit .322 with the Troy (NY) Haymakers in the inaugural season of the National Association. He signed for a higher salary the next season with Lord Baltimore of Baltimore (Canaries) and batted in 55 runs in 35 games (1872).

Playing with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1874, William Craver hit a career-high 13 doubles, legged out 13 triples and scored 68 runs in 55 games... in 1875 he led the league with 13 triples in 68 games split between the Centennial of Philadelphia, who dropped out of the National Association in May (1875) and the Athletics of Philadelphia. Craver played the first two seasons of the new National League - hitting .224 in '76 and .265 in '87.

* Dick McBride, Pitcher/Manager Athletics of Philadelphia, RH - born in Philadelphia, he led the National Association in its first year with a .783 winning percentage - posting a 18-5 Win/Loss record - and also was the first-ever manager to win a major league pennant - Athletics, who played 28 games in 1871 and finished with a 21-7 record, .750 pct.

When the A's expanded their schedule games to 44 in 1872 and to 68 by 1875, James Dickson McBride strung together W/L records of 30-14, 24-19, 33-22 and 44-14... he pitched one more year in the majors, with Boston of the new NL - going 0-4, 2.73 ERA - 1876.

* Lip Pike, 2nd Baseman & Outfielder Baltimore and Brown Stockings of St Louis - a left-handed power-hitter during baseball's Dead Ball ERA, he led the National Association in homers three straight years, 1871-1873 with 4, 6 and 4 and in 1874, he led the league with 24 doubles and led with a .496 slugging percentage. Lipman Pike played for several amateur teams before joining the Troy Haymakers at age 26. After hitting a robust .377 in his rookie year - 1871 with Troy - He signed with Lord Baltimore when they started paying Higher salaries to obtain star hitters... He drove in a career-best 50 runs with the St Louis Brown Stocking in 1876... Born in New York City, Pike played with various major league teams - 1871-78, 1881, 1887 and posted a .316 life-time batting average. Salaries and Finances - 1870s

* Harry Wright, National Association - the chief innovator of the National Association - his annual $35,000 budget for the Boston Red Stockings (the team we know as the Atlanta Braves), was the highest in the majors until the 1880s. As manager, Wright was in charge of recruiting and training players and also handled the team's tasks of procuring advertisements, equipment design and keeping of on-field grounds in best-of-shape.

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