A Fine-Looking Lot of Ball-Tossers

The Remarkable Akrons of 1881


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About the Book

The Akron club’s accumulation of talented ballplayers and its success against the best opposition of the time set it apart from the general development of 19th century baseball. Like many of the independent baseball teams that proliferated in the 1870s and 1880s, it was formed as a joint stock company by prominent citizens and businessmen. Its talent led it to be raided out of existence. Of the 20 men who played with the Akrons during 1881, 14 played major league ball in subsequent seasons. Most prominent were Hall of Famer Bid McPhee and Tony Mullane.
This work traces the development and play of the team from its formation in 1879 through its great 1881 season and on. Biographical profiles of the players, with personal and professional details, are interspersed throughout. Appendices include the 1881 calendar of scores and 40 box scores (and compiled statistics) for the 1881 season, as well as the box score of the Akrons’ victory over the Chicagos of Cap Anson in 1880.

About the Author(s)

The late Richard L. McBane was a former reporter and editorial writer for the Akron Beacon Journal, A member of Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), he lived in Lilburn, Georgia.

Bibliographic Details

Richard L. McBane
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 191
Bibliographic Info: 18 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2005
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2056-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8460-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Introduction: A Few Words About Nineteenth Century Baseball      1

1. The Original Akrons      9
2. A Fresh Incarnation      14
3. The Reputation Grows      20
4. The Strongest Non-League Club in the Country      32
5. Bid McPhee Comes to Akron      37
6. The Matinee Idol      45
7. That Man Swartwood      52
8. The Most Remarkable Game      60
9. The Home Town Boy      65
10. From Louisville to Limbo      76
11. Art, Music, Literature and Left Field      82
12. The Streak Continues      87
13. A College Boy      92
14. Some Country Hardball      99
15. Into the Mist      107
16. And Into the Darkness      117
17. Toward the Light      126
18. A Dawn of Fresh Glory      135

Appendix A: 1881 Calendar of Scores      141
Appendix B: Box Scores of the Akrons      143
Appendix C: 1881 Akrons Stats      163
Chapter Notes      165
Bibliography      175
Index      177

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “McBane has opened one window on the era, and done it well.”—Nineteenth Century Notes
  • “Recounts the story of the Akrons in impressive detail. … There is much work to be done on the organization of baseball in the 1870s and ’80s. McBane has opened one window on the era, and done it well.”— Richard Hershberger, Newsletter of SABR’s Nineteenth Century Committee