The Louisville Grays Scandal of 1877

The Taint of Gambling at the Dawn of the National League

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About the Book

By the mid–1870s, gambling in baseball threatened the public’s confidence in the sport and its very existence as a professional enterprise. Recognizing this, Chicago owner William A. Hulbert and seven of his colleagues formed the National League, dedicating it to such high-minded ideals as preventing contract jumping and, most importantly, eliminating gambling from the sport.
Hulbert’s new league was severely threatened in 1877 by a gambling scandal that rocked its foundation. In mid-season, the Louisville Grays were the league’s hottest team, but a disastrous eastern road trip caused vice president Charles Chase to question the efforts of some of his players. Sure-handed infielders were making inexplicable errors, and pitcher Jim Devlin was suddenly not as sharp as he had been previously. Chase’s investigation found Devlin, A.H. Nichols, W.H. Carver, and George Hall had “sold” games, and the four were banned from the league.
This work focuses first on the formation of the National League and the changing nature of professional baseball in the 1870s. The early seasons of the league are covered, and the author gives a detailed account of the Grays’ 1877 season and the evidence against the four players. Also fully explored are the impact of the Grays scandal and its lasting influence on the governance of the sport.

About the Author(s)

William A. Cook is the author of numerous books, including 11 on baseball history, and has appeared in productions on ESPN2 and the MLB Network. A former health care administrator and township councilman in North Brunswick, New Jersey, he resides in Manalapan, New Jersey.

Bibliographic Details

William A. Cook
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 245
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, tables, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2005
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2179-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1639-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

Introduction      5

1. The Founding of The National League      9

2. The 1876 National League Season      35

3. The 1877 National League Season—Part One      83

4. The 1877 National League Season—Part Two (The Louisville Grays Scandal)      103

5. Aftermath of the Scandal      148

6. The Long Gray Shadow      172

Appendix A: The Record of Teams and Games Played by the Red Stockings in 1877      213

Appendix B: Selected Career Statistics for Jim Devlin, George Hall, Bill Craver and Al Nichols      216

Source Notes      219

Bibliography      225

Index      227