Blackguards and Red Stockings

A History of Baseball’s National Association, 1871–1875, Revised Edition

$29.95

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About the Book

It was a novel experiment as baseball’s leading men formed the National Association, bringing order to the hodgepodge of professional and amateur clubs that made up the sport from the end of the Civil War through 1870. It was an imperfect beginning to organized professional sports in America—the league was plagued by gambling, contract jumping and rumors of dishonest play—but it laid the groundwork for the multi-billion-dollar enterprises of the 21st century. Like most sporting endeavors, it was entertaining, with the best players in the world displaying their talents throughout the northeastern and mid-western United States and, in 1874, during a ground-breaking journey to England. The present volume covers all the action—both on and off the field—of the NA’s five years, providing the definitive history of the first professional sports league in the U.S.

About the Author(s)

William J. Ryczek is a finance professional from Wallingford, Connecticut, who writes about early baseball, football, the Yankees, and the Mets.

Bibliographic Details

William J. Ryczek
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 272
Bibliographic Info: 23 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9945-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2552-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Introduction 1

1. Opening Day 3

2. Elysian Fields to Fort Wayne 7

3. Collier’s Rooms 15

4. The Game 19

5. The Players 27

6. Play Ball 42

7. The First Pennant Race 53

8. The Pernicious Practice 68

9. A ­Two-Tiered League 78

10. The Tournament 92

11. Financial Troubles 100

12. The Umpire 107

13. A New Powerhouse 117

14. The Mutuals 124

15. Boston Makes a Run 130

16. The Return of the White Stockings 136

17. A Trip to Europe 142

18. Going for Three 154

19. Not Cricket 163

20. The Mutuals Repulsed 173

21. Going West 185

22. The Force Case 191

23. Going Broke 202

24. An Early Challenge 210

25. A Little Chin Music, Maestro 220

26. A Stunning Succession 228

27. Grand Central Hotel 235

Appendix—Selected Statistics: Statistical Leaders of the National Association, 1871–75 241

Chapter Notes 251

Bibliography 264

Index 267

Book Reviews & Awards

Winner, Macmillan–SABR Baseball Research Award
“a comprehensive examination of the history of the National Association of baseball”—ProtoView; “Until 1969, no one had any doubt that the National Association of 1871–75 was the first big league, but then Major League Baseball changed its view and cast the NA into official darkness. Bill Ryczek loves that unruly, raucous circuit…so do I…and he unveils its story brilliantly.”—John Thorn, Official Historian of Major League Baseball; Reviews of the first edition: “an extensive amount of research…very informative…excellent”—Nine; “engaging…a good discussion of strategy”—Choice; “an excellent guide to a murky period in baseball’s past…strongly recommend[ed]”—Nineteenth Century Notes; “comprehensive”—Reference & Research Book News; “diligent research and flavorsome writing…reliable, comprehensive history”—Baltimore Evening Sun; “intriguing…extremely rare look into the first professional sports league”—Houston Post; “[This book] sparkles with the author’s wit and charm of a bygone era. It is an exhaustively researched, beautifully fashioned account of the National Association. All baseball histories should be this good!”—Darryl Brock, author of If I Never Get Back.