Spring 1995: Past Commentary on Labor Issues
"The fact, too, that the secession movement had its origin in the New York Club's team of players, which club had petted its players for years, only emphasized the fact of the ingratitude for personal favors done, which marks the average professional ball player. The revolt of the League players unquestionably grew out of the ambitious efforts of a small minority to obtain the upper hand of the National League in the control and management of its players."
"The methods adopted by the originator of the revolutionary scheme were of a character well calculated to mislead the majority of the players. ... Once having gathered the League players within the fold of the Brotherhood, the chief conspirator soon began to throw aside the mask of his disguise, and securing the co-operation of the more intelligent of his confreres in aiding the revolt, a quartette of leaders assumed the direction of its affairs. These `big four' of the great strike, correctly estimating the weakness of character and lack of moral courage of the average Brotherhood member, knew that he would be loath to break the oath of allegiance to the Brotherhood, however he might be willing to violate his National League obligations..."
Henry Chadwick, 1890 Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide
"The players will attempt to revive their union on Sunday, July 26, according to a call issued by some of the leaders in their protective association, which died a year ago. Public sentiment will not be with them and if the members of the union do not feel that they can submit to a reduction in their pay, there will be no popular protest against their retiring from the game and giving younger members of the profession a chance."
Editorial, July 25, 1903 Sporting News
"If the officials of the two major leagues got together and resolved to adopt a reasonable salary limit and live strictly up to it, it would be possible, nay, it would be highly probable that two clubs in any big city would make not only expenses, but a fair profit, but with the salaries up to the high-water mark, some players getting as much as $8,000 for six months' exercise, it is out of the question to make any money."
Timothy Sharp, July 22, 1905 Sporting News
1913: Despite the workers' paradise the players apparently inhabited, at least in the eyes of the press, David Fultz' Base Ball Players' Fraternity (whose vice-presidents included Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson) is forced to file a formal request with the National Commission to ensure that each player receives a copy of his own contract ("Ninety per cent. of the players were without them last season, preferring to be without them than to antagonize their owner by a forceful demand."); all written agreements are binding on the club ("Article 15, section D of the National Agreement, says that no side agreement not written in the regular contract shall be binding upon the club."); and teams buy uniforms for their players ("In the National League a player pays each team he plays on $30 for two uniforms").
Compiled by Doug Pappas. All rights reserved.
Originally published in the Spring 1995 issue of Outside the Lines, the SABR Business of Baseball Committee newsletter.