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Read more abouit The Players League and all of Hopper's performance of "Casey At The Bat."

About the Players League 

[from Part Two of  "OIL IN THEIR BLOOD (The Story of Our Addiction)"]:

(click pic to enlarge)

In the mid-1880s, when Major League Baseball's National League was in its infancy and its American League was yet to be born, the players began to question the validity of the Reserve Clause in their contracts. The clause essentially made them the property of the team with which they signed. It allowed the players no option to negotiate with other teams for higher pay, thereby protecting the teams' owners from the escalating costs of competing salary offers. To further protect themselves, the owners formed a gentleman's agreement to defend the Reserve Clause.


In 1885, the players formed the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, to jointly negotiate with the owners. John Montgomery Ward, a Hall-of-Fame caliber pitcher/shortstop and Columbia University-trained attorney, led the players. Rumblings against the Reserve Clause grew throughout the late 1880s and Brotherhood membership increased. In 1889, Ward and the players raised a related objection, insisting that if a player was sold to a different team he should share in the money from the sale.


The owners responded with a new, more self-protective contract system, severely limiting player salaries. Outraged, Ward and the Brotherhood obtained financial backing and formed the Players League. Beginning in the 1890 season, they would compete with the National League and the American Association and, in the Players League, the players would share in all profits.

 A Performance of "Casey At The Bat" in Cleveland

[from Part Two of  "OIL IN THEIR BLOOD (The Story of Our Addiction)"]:


At the end of the evening, the Star Theater's manager stepped out on the stage and asked for the house lights. He welcomed the base ballers, especially the guests from Brooklyn, thanked them for allowing his humble theater to honor them with a special night, reminded them of the private reception following the show and reminded them to use the tunnel from the theater to the Oaks Cafe on Vincent Street. Then he announced the evening's special moment.


"Ladies and Gentlemen and honored athletes, to conclude our show tonight, we have with us, direct from his grand successes in New York City on the Great White Way, a man who you have all read and heard about!" The manager backed to the recesses of the stage and the curtains closed on him. The house lights dimmed. A thickset man with a gray beard, in top hat, white tie and tailcoat, walked out in a spotlight.


"A man who needs no introduction," the manager went on from behind the curtains, "reciting the poem that is sweeping the nation and glorifying the grand American sport we are honoring here tonight. Ladies and gentlemen and honored guests, here with his nationally acclaimed rendition of the 'Casey At The Bat,' Mr. De Wolf HOPPER!"


Hopper bowed slow and low and grandly, and the audience vigorously applauded and cheered. Jack joined in until Monte Ward nudged him. He turned, followed Ward's subtle head nod and saw uniformed Cleveland police officers marching up and down the darkened aisles, peering at faces in the crowd.


"The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day," Hopper announced in his striking tenor voice. "The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play."





Copyright 2006 Herman K. Trabish. All Rights Reserved.