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Atlanta Braves History: The Triumvirs and the reserve clause (1877)

1877 was pretty good for the Braves (then known as the Boston Red Stockings). They were 42-18 and ended in first. Arthur H. Soden is not a household name these days. He became one in 1877. He headed a group of three men who bought the Braves. The two other partners were William Conant and James Billings. Soden served as President of the club a long time, 30 years to be correct. He and the other two became known as the Triumvirs. If you know ancient history, that would be Caesar, Pompey and Crassus.

Some things last a long time. One of them was what was known as the “reserve clause” in baseball. It lasted almost 100 years. Soden is the man who wrote it into the leagues by-laws. It bound a player to his club no matter what. There was no such thing as “free agency” then. Even if another team wanted to pay them more, they couldn’t go unless their current team traded them. Of course, the “Four Seceders” had a little to do with that. The reserve clause wasn’t in place yet that year when manager Harry Wright decided that Tommy Bond should replace his pitcher Joseph Borden and the Joseph should be a groundskeeper.

In October 1969, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Curt Flood challenged his trade to the Philadelphia Phillies. Flood sacrificed the remainder of his playing career to pursue this litigation. Flood’s case established that the reserve clause was a legitimate basis for negotiation in collective bargaining between players and owners, and that the historic baseball antitrust exemption was valid for baseball only and not applicable to any other sport.

Removing the reserve clause from player contracts became the primary goal of negotiations between the Major League Baseball Players Association and the owners. The reserve clause was struck down in 1975 when arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled that since pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally played for one season without a contract, they could become free agents. This decision essentially dismantled the reserve clause and opened the door to widespread free agency.

Atlanta Braves History: Andy Leonard from 1876 – 1878

July 7, 2012 1 comment
English: Andy Leonard, Boston Red Stockings, 1...

Andy Leonard, Boston Red Stockings, 1874 left field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Andrew (Andy) Jackson Leonard was born on Monday, June 1, 1846, in County Cavan, Ireland. Leonard was 29 years old when he broke into the big leagues on April 22, 1876, with the Boston Red Caps and played 3 seasons with them. He died on August 21, 1903 in Boston.

On July 7, 1871, the Olympics of Washington‚ at home‚ score 18 runs in the 6th and defeat Ft. Wayne‚ 32-12. Four players go to bat three times in the big inning-John Glenn‚ Andy LeonardAsa Brainard and George Hall. Leonard scores 3 times.

In Boston on June 14, 1873‚ 2‚000 spectators watch the Reds suffer a shutout for the first time in their history. Dick McBride of the Athletics holds the champions to only 2 hits. An unusual play occurs near the end of the game when Tim Murnane‚ who later as “Murnane” becomes a famous sports writer‚ avoids a tag by Andy by jumping over him to reach 2B. That may not have been too tough since I think he was only 5′ 7″ tall.

In 1877, At Boston’s South End Fair‚ he wins a gold watch valued at $300 for being voted the league’s “most popular player.” I’m not sure what the significance of receiving this on November 30.

Now with the  Cincinnati Reds on July 3, 1880, Andy makes 2 two-run errors to lose a game to Providence‚ 6-4. This will lead to Andy’s release‚ ending a career that dates back to the original Red Stockings of 1869.

Here’s what his pro career looked like.

Atlanta Braves History: A gutsy move by Harry Wright (1877)

July 5, 2012 2 comments

 

English: Ezra Sutton, Boston Beaneaters, 3rd B...

English: Ezra Sutton, Boston Beaneaters, 3rd Base, 1879 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ezra Sutton started with the Braves (then known as the Boston Red Caps) in 1877. He came to the Braves from Philadelphia. Manager Harry Wright placed the infielder in the lineup as a shortstop. That was a gutsy move since his brother George was currently playing the position. He moved George to second base. It was the only year George would not play shortstop.

It paid off for Harry. Sutton drove in 39 runs that year. That was good enough for third in the league that year. The Braves ended up winning the pennant 7 games ahead.

Atlanta Braves History: Lew Brown (1876, 1877, 1883)

February 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Lewis (Lew) J. Brown (February 1, 1858 – January 15, 1889) was a Brave in 1876, 1877 and 1883 seasons. His debut was on June 17, 1876. Primarily a catcher and first baseman, he played for seven seasons in total and played for six different teams from 1876 to 1884. Brown was primarily a catcher, but he also logged over 100 games as a first baseman. He also appeared twice as a pitcher. His final game was October 19, 1884.

In his 1876 season with the Braves, he hit a lack luster .210. Probably not burning things up, even for a catcher. 1877 saw improvement to .253 but in 1878, off he went to the Providence Grays.   Brown missed the 1882 season due to being blacklisted for “confirmed dissipation and general insubordination.” Apparently he showed up drunk at an exhibition game and was suspended for the season. Imagine that.

He returned for a season in 1883 for the Boston Beaneaters (now known as the Atlanta Braves). He only played in 14 games, batting .241. He was sent to the Louisville Eclipse.   Brown died at the age of 30 in Boston, Massachusetts, and is interred at Forest Hills.

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Harry continues (1877)

Harry Wright continued on in 1877 as the manager. The Braves did very well. They were 42-18 and finished first, 7 games ahead. Not bad for having lost some of the best players in the league.

Al who? Maybe you couldn’t find it in the headlines that year. But time marches on. Al Spalding had been gone a year now. Perhaps the mourning was over. No way to know for sure. The good news is that Tommy Bond was signed to the team. A 21 year-old Irishman (ok, this is Boston) came on the scene. In 1876 he had a pretty good season for Hartford. He was 31-13. Got him noticed in Boston by the Braves.

Al who? How quickly they forget.

He returns (1877)

He was one of the “four Seceders” and a man I want to meet in heaven.

“Deacon” Jim White returned in 1877. Just couldn’t stay away from a winning team I am betting. He nearly won the triple crown. He led the leauge in batting at .387 and RBIs with 49. His two (yes that is 2) home runs were two short of the leader who had four. Imagine that today.

Second Year (1877)

It was the second year of the National League. The Braves, in fact, did pretty good. They finished first, seven games ahead.

The rest of the league was kind of dicey. Only two teams ( the Braves one of them) showed a profit. Philadelphia was kicked out, for all reasons, for not making a single road trip. And Cincinnati couldn’t even pay their dues and was booted out as well.

But the Braves (then in Boston) shined through. It was the start of something.

Go BRAVES!!!

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