By the start of the 1870s, the game of "base ball" had been building momentum for a couple of decades as the new national past time. From Boston to New York to Philadelphia, base ball "clubs" had been forming around the country. From the first game to be reported in a newspaper in 1853 to the first all-star game in 1858 to the first fully professional baseball team in 1869, minor and major milestones ultimately led to the formation of the first professional baseball league. In Opening Pitch: Professional Baseball's Inaugural Season, 1871, Warren Wilbert chronicles the events leading up to the sport's first official season. Highlighting the key players both on and off the field, Wilbert provides a fascinating history of the sport's highs and lows, culminating in the historic season when baseball officially evolved from amateur athletics to the professional sport that all of America embraced.
Opening Pitch provides a close look at the teams that participated in league play, including the New York Knickerbockers, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the Chicago White Stockings, the Troy Haymakers, the New York Mutuals, the Fort Wayne Kekiongas, the Cleveland Forest Citys, the Washington Olympics, and the Philadelphia Athletics.
Warren N. Wilbert is Dean Emeritus of Concordia University's School of Adult Learning at Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has been a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) since 1994 and has written articles for The Baseball Research Journal and National Pastime, both SABR publications. He has authored or coauthored several books about the history of the game including The Arrival of the American League: Ban Johnson and the 1901 Challenge to National League Monopoly and The Greatest World Series Games: Baseball Historians Choose 26 Classics.
Part 1 Acknowledgments Part 2 Prologue Chapter 3 Chapter One: The Eckfords: Link to the Past Chapter 4 Chapter Two: Boss Tweed's Mutes Chapter 5 Chapter Three: Base Ball in the Hinterlands: The Kekiongas Part 6 OPENING PITCHES I: BASE BALL 1871 Chapter 7 Chapter Four: Base Ball on the Shores of Lake Erie Chapter 8 Chapter Five: Chicago's White Stockings Part 9 OPENING PITCHES II: SORTING OUT THE LEADERS Chapter 10 Chapter Six: Base Ball at the Agricultural Sociaty Fairgrounds Chapter 11 Chapter Seven: Troy's Haymakers Part 12 OPENING PITCHES III: THE BROTHERS WRIGHT Chapter 13 Chapter Eight: Red Stockings in Boston Chapter 14 Chapter Nine: The Capital's Olympians Chapter 15 Chapter Ten: A Whip Flag for the City of Brotherly Love Part 16 Appenidx A: 1871: The Ball Players' Who's Who Part 17 Appendix B: The Championship Game Part 18 Appendix C: 1871 National Association Standings and Team Statistics Part 19 Epilogue Part 20 Selected Bibliography Part 21 Index Part 22 About the Author