1871 Baseball Season Roster
- Birth of Major League Baseball: SOM now has created 1871-present
- First Champs: Philadelphia Athletics with Levi Meyerle (.492 BA)
- Dandy Debuts: Future HOF Cap Anson, Al Spalding, Deacon White, George and HarryWright
Though “Major League” is a matter of dispute, this was the first organized professional baseball league and the start of the National Association, forerunner to the National League. Playing fewer than 35 games, the Philadelphia Athletics (22-7), Chicago (20-9) and Boston (22-10) all claimed the pennant, thanks to confusion and controversy, but Philadelphia ultimately was recognized as the pennant winner.
The Athletics had top hitters Levi Meyerle (.492), ), Al Reach (.353), George Bechtel (.351), Fergy Malone (.343), Count Sensenderfer (.323), and John Radcliff (.303). Player-Manager Dick McBride had an 18-5 pitching record. Boston’s Al Spalding led the league with 19 wins. Spalding threw a fast ball and fielders didn’t wear gloves—there was a game in which Spalding had to be relieved because both catchers developed sore hands from catching his pitches.
The first season had other firsts. The first major-league game was played on May 4, 1871 at Hamilton Field in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Bobby Mathews pitched a shutout as the Kekiongas of Fort Wayne defeated Forest City of Cleveland, 2-0, in what would turn out to be the lowest-scoring game of the season. Future Hall-of-Famer Deacon White of Cleveland picked up baseball’s first hit.
Fort Wayne, unable to pay its players, didn’t finish the season. The Great Chicago Fire of October 8-10, 1871 destroyed the White Stockings’ stadium, as well as their uniforms and equipment. Several players’ homes were also destroyed by the fire. The Rockford club was scheduled to play Chicago, saw the flames as they approached the city, and turned around to go home.
Requires Strat-O-Matic Baseball 2018 or higher to play
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