Baseball’s Union Association

The Short, Strange Life of a 19th-Century Major League


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SKU: 9781476680606 Categories: , , Tags: ,

About the Book

Hastily formed in 1883 as a rival, third major league, the Union Association upset the moguls of the baseball world and disrupted the status quo. Backed by Henry V. Lucas, an impetuous 26-year-old millionaire from St. Louis, the UA existed for one chaotic season in 1884. This first full-length history of the Union Association tells the captivating story of the league’s brief and enigmatic existence. Lucas recruited a wild mix of disgruntled stars, misfits, crooks, has-beens, drunks, and the occasional spectator—along with a future star or two. The result was a bizarre experiment that sowed both turmoil and hope before fading into oblivion.

About the Author(s)

Justin Mckinney is a baseball researcher and archivist living in Canada. He has written articles on 19th century and early 20th century baseball for the SABR Research Journal Base Ball: Journal of the Early Game, and the SABR Biography Project, and writes about deceased baseball players at

Bibliographic Details

Justin Mckinney
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 277
Bibliographic Info: 32 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8060-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4736-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
1. Al Pratt’s Association 7
2. The Very Best of Ball Players 19
3. Enter Henry V. Lucas 32
4. The War Begins 39
5. The Union Association Takes the Stage 49
6. “The Finest! The Nearest! The Prettiest!” 58
7. One Month in Altoona, Pennsylvania 67
8. Going to Kansas City 78
9. Independence Day in Washington 84
10. Baltimore’s Battle 93
11. “Bollicky” Bill and the “Wizard” 101
12. The Hoss and the Playboy 110
13. The Bell Tolls for the Keystones 116
14. A Matter of Dollars and Cents 124
15. The Windy City Blows Out of Town 131
16. A Curse Falls Upon Delaware 139
17. The Union Goes North … Western 150
18. Cream City Chronicles 155
19. The Vagabonds from Minnesota 164
20. The Wild West and the Race for Third Place 174
21. The Associations Face Off 185
22. The Real Games Begin 193
23. Almost Equivalent to Actual Dishonesty 200
24. The Double Cross 207
25. What Killed the Union Association? 212
26. The Ghosts of the Union 218
27. Henry Lucas Opts Out 228
Epilogue 237
Notes 243
Bibliography 257
Index 261

Book Reviews & Awards

• SABR Baseball Research Award

• “A remarkable compilation of research on the quirky, ill-fated league that is focused on contemporary primary sources to under-gird an analysis of how the Union Association formed, competed, and disbanded during its sole year of existence in 1884”—Charlie Bevis, author, Tim Keefe: A Biography of the Hall of Fame Pitcher and Player-Rights Advocate