Tag Archives: sport

How the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings turned baseball into a national sensation

A drawing from Harper’s Weekly depicts a game between the Red Stockings and the Brooklyn Atlantics.
New York Public Library

Robert Wyss, University of Connecticut

This Major League Baseball season, fans may notice a patch on the players’ uniforms that reads “MLB 150.”

The logo commemorates the Cincinnati Red Stockings, who, in 1869, became the first professional baseball team – and went on to win an unprecedented 81 straight games.

As the league’s first openly salaried club, the Red Stockings made professionalism – which had been previously frowned upon – acceptable to the American public.

But the winning streak was just as pivotal.

“This did not just make the city famous,” John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s official historian, said in an interview for this article. “It made baseball famous.”

Pay to play?

In the years after the Civil War, baseball’s popularity exploded, and thousands of American communities fielded teams. Initially most players were gentry – lawyers, bankers and merchants whose wealth allowed them to train and play as a hobby. The National Association of Base Ball Players banned the practice of paying players.

At the time, the concept of amateurism was especially popular among fans. Inspired by classical ideas of sportsmanship, its proponents argued that playing sport for a reason other than for the love of the game was immoral, even corrupt.

Nonetheless, some of the major clubs in the East and Midwest began disregarding the rule prohibiting professionalism and secretly hired talented young working-class players to get an edge.

After the 1868 season, the national association reversed its position and sanctified the practice of paying players. The move recognized the reality that some players were already getting paid, and that was unlikely to change because professionals clearly helped teams win.

Yet the taint of professionalism restrained virtually every club from paying an entire roster of players.

The Cincinnati Red Stockings, however, became the exception.

The Cincinnati experiment

In the years after the Civil War, Cincinnati was a young, growing, grimy city.

The city had experienced an influx of German and Irish immigrants who toiled in the multiplying slaughterhouses. The stench of hog flesh wafted through the streets, while the black fumes of steamboats, locomotives and factories lingered over the skyline.

Nonetheless, money was pouring into the coffers of the city’s gentry. And with prosperity, the city sought respectability; it wanted to be as significant as the big cities that ran along the Atlantic seaboard – New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

Men slaughter hogs on an assembly line in a Cincinnati meat packing plant.
Library of Congress

Cincinnati’s main club, the Red Stockings, was run by an ambitious young lawyer named Aaron Champion. Prior to the 1869 season, he budgeted US$10,000 for his payroll and hired Harry Wright to captain and manage the squad. Wright was lauded later in his career as a “baseball Edison” for his ability to find talent. But the best player on the team was his 22-year-old brother, George, who played shortstop. George Wright would end up finishing the 1869 season with a .633 batting average and 49 home runs.

Only one player hailed from Cincinnati; the rest had been recruited from other teams around the nation. Wright had hoped to attract the top player in the country for each position. He didn’t quite get the best of the best, but the team was loaded with stars.

As the season began, the Red Stockings and their new salaries attracted little press attention.

“The benefits of professionalism were not immediately recognized,” Greg Rhodes, a co-author of “Baseball Revolutionaries: How the 1869 Red Stockings Rocked the Country and Made Baseball Famous,” told me. “So the Cincinnati experiment wasn’t seen as all that radical.”

The Red Stockings opened the season by winning 45 to 9. They kept winning and winning and winning – huge blowouts.

At first only the Cincinnati sports writers had caught on that something special was going on. Then, in June, the team took its first road trip east. Playing in hostile territory against what were considered the best teams in baseball, they were also performing before the most influential sports writers.

The pivotal victory was a tight 4-to-2 win against what had been considered by many the best team in baseball, the powerful New York Mutuals, in a game played with Tammany Hall “boss” William Tweed watching from the stands.

Now the national press was paying attention. The Red Stockings continued to win, and, by the conclusion of the road trip in Washington, they were puffing stogies at the White House with their host, President Ulysses Grant.

The players chugged home in a boozy, satisfied revel and were met by 4,000 joyous fans at Cincinnati’s Union Station.

American idols

The Red Stockings had become a sensation. They were profiled in magazines and serenaded in sheet music. Ticket prices doubled to 50 cents. They drew such huge crowds that during a game played outside of Chicago, an overloaded bleacher collapsed.

Aaron Chapman’s squad averaged 42 runs a game in the 1869 season.
From the collection of Greg Rhodes, Author provided

Most scores were ridiculously lopsided; during the 1869 season the team averaged 42 runs a game. Once they even scored 103. The most controversial contest was in August against the Haymakers of Troy, New York. The game was rife with rumors of $17,000 bets, and bookmakers bribing umpires and players. The game ended suspiciously at 17 to 17, when the Haymakers left the field in the sixth inning, incensed by an umpire’s call. The Red Stockings were declared the winners.

The season climaxed with a road trip west on the new transcontinental railroad, which had just opened in May. The players, armed with rifles, shot out windows at bison, antelope and even prairie dogs and slept in wooden Coleman cars lighted with whale oil. More than 2,000 excited baseball fans greeted the team in San Francisco, where admission to games was one dollar in gold.

Cincinnati ended its season with an undefeated record: 57 wins, 0 losses. The nation’s most prominent sports writer of the day, Henry Chadwick, declared them “champion club of the United States.”

Despite fears that others clubs would outbid Cincinnati for their players, every Red Stockings player demonstrated his loyalty by signing contracts to return for the 1870 season.

The demise begins

The winning streak continued into the next season – up until a June 14, 1870, game against the Brooklyn Atlantics.

An error by second baseman Charles Sweasy ended the Red Sockings’ historic streak.
From the collection of John Thorn, Author provided

After nine innings, the teams were tied at 5. Under the era’s rules, the game could have been declared a draw, leaving the streak intact. Instead Harry Wright opted to continue, and the Red Stockings ended up losing in extra innings after an error by the second baseman, Charlie Sweasy.

The 81-game win streak had ended.

The Red Stockings did not return in 1871. Ticket sales had fallen after their first loss, and other teams began to outbid the Red Stockings for their star players. Ultimately the cost of retaining all of its players was more than the Cincinnati club could afford.

Yet the team had made its mark.

“It made baseball from something of a provincial fare to a national game,” Thorn explained.

A few years later, in 1876, the National League was founded and still exists today. The Cincinnati Reds were a charter member. And not surprisingly, some of the biggest 150-year celebrations of the first professional baseball team are occurring in the town they once called Porkopolis.The Conversation

Robert Wyss, Professor of Journalism, University of Connecticut

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The long and complicated history of Aboriginal involvement in football

Roy Hay, Deakin University

Over the next two weekends, the Australian Football League celebrates the contribution of Indigenous peoples to the history of the game.

At the same time, a new documentary will show how one of the modern Indigenous superstars of the sport, Adam Goodes, was driven from it by prejudice and repeated denigration.

Clearly, Indigenous players have made huge inroads in professional Australian football leagues. In fact, to mark this year’s Indigenous round, the AFL Players Association recently updated its map celebrating the 84 male Indigenous players and 13 female players in the league and showing where they come from.

But in order to understand how we got to this point, it’s important to know the full history of Indigenous involvement in the sport, including the discrimination faced by players like Goodes, and all those who came before him.

Indigenous men playing football in a paddock at Coranderrk Aboriginal Station, 1904.
State Library of Victoria, Author provided

The early days on missions and stations

In my latest book, Aboriginal People and Australian Football in the Nineteenth Century, I examine the long history of Aboriginal involvement in Australian football since the game was codified in the middle of the 19th century. It’s a story of resilience in the face of sometimes overwhelming obstacles to their participation.

By the 1860s, the Indigenous population of Victoria had been drastically reduced to just a few thousand people, due largely to massacres, disease, and the other impacts of European settlement. Most of these people were confined to missions or stations in remote parts of the colony under the control of “protectors.”

Read more:
The Aboriginal football ethic: where the rules get flexible

In the second half of the century, the Indigenous inhabitants of these institutions saw the white settlers playing football and sought to take part. They brought skills developed in hunting and their own games like marngrook and joined the white players in football games, first as individuals and then by forming their own teams.

Eventually, the Indigenous teams started taking part in and then winning local leagues. It was a triumph of the human spirit in the face of appalling adversity.

This story can only be told because the deeds of these early generations of Indigenous players were reported in the sports pages of newspapers digitised by the National Library of Australia. Indigenous deeds on the field were being recounted positively, a contrast to the typical media reports of the day focused on “outrages” committed by – or less often, against – our original inhabitants.

Dominating and winning league titles

The numbers of Indigenous players remained small throughout the 19th century and getting leave to compete from the missions and stations was often difficult or inconsistent. Indigenous Australians may have found it slightly easier to break into individual sports like pedestrianism or boxing than team games like cricket and football at the time.

But many Indigenous teams found success. At Coranderrk in the Upper Yarra Valley near Melbourne, Indigenous people from the station began playing regularly in the 1890s, forming a team to compete in local competitions involving three non-Aboriginal teams, Healesville, Lilydale and Yarra Glen.

Read more:
What if Indigenous Australians didn’t play footy?

Dick Rowan was invited to play with the South Melbourne club in 1892, but when he sought permission to play again the following season, he was refused by the Board for the Protection of Aborigines of Victoria. Their reason: if he was allowed to play, others would wish to follow. The board wanted to keep Indigenous people on the periphery.

In 1911, the Coranderrk team won the local league against white teams for the first time, but could not field a team the following year after several of their players were recruited by other clubs.

Other dominant Indigenous teams of the era included Framlingham, Lake Condah, Lake Tyers and above all Cummeragunja. Cummeragunja had suffered heavy defeats in the late 1880s, but the team eventually became so strong that it won the Western and Moira League five out of six years, and was promptly handicapped. (They were not allowed to field players over the age of 25.) In 1900, they ran rings around a strong Bendigo team and gave a Ballarat team a close game, as well.

The Redgummers, the name given to the team of combined Barmah and Cummeragunja players, 1905.
State Library of New South Wales, Author provided

Lake Tyers in Gippsland followed a similar pattern. After the first world war, the team became the receptacle for Indigenous players moved from other stations and missions around the state and was extremely successful, winning the East Gippsland League in 1934, 1938 and 1939.

Critics will point out that this was only “bush football”, but that was all that was on offer to Indigenous teams. They could not get regular matches against professional Melbourne teams, and Indigenous players were denied opportunities to play in senior leagues owing to racial bias.

There were a few exceptions, including Doug Nicholls from Cummeragunja, who was later knighted and became governor of South Australia. He rhapsodised about playing the game:

Once on the football field, I forget everything else. I’m playing football. I never take my eyes off that ball. My aim is not only to beat my opponent, but also to serve my side. I realise that in football as in other things, it’s team-work that tells.

Read more:
Indigenous players didn’t invent Australian rules but did make it their own

My aim in writing this book was to show how the history of the game could be rewritten to better reflect Indigenous contributions and experiences by using newspapers and other materials of the day as a basis, even the much maligned “colonial record”. This may assist Indigenous peoples to tell the story from their perspective about what happened to their ancestors and their more recent history.

As the Wiradjuri historian Lawrence Bamblett argues, this could have a positive impact on the sport and help counter the racism and discrimination that Indigenous peoples still face both on and off the field.

…broadening the discourse will bring representations of Aborigines in the writing about sport more closely into line with the richer lived experiences of individuals, and this in itself combats racism.

My hope is that some young Indigenous people with an interest in football will take up this story and tell it from their unique perspective.The Conversation

Roy Hay, Honorary Fellow, Deakin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

A history of sporting lingo: a linguistic ‘shirtfronting’ for lovers and haters of sports alike

Kate Burridge, Monash University and Howard Manns, Monash University

Like sport or hate it, it’s hard to deny the role that sporting lingo plays in our daily lives.

Corporate language everywhere groans with references of people leveling playing fields, getting balls rolling, moving goal posts, lighting fires under their teams, blocking and tackling, even touching base offline – and of course it’s all done by the playbook and at close of play.

Perhaps it’s just not cricket, but politics is also rife with sporting lingo. Shirtfronting has escaped the on-field aggression of the AFL to cover diplomatic spats. Both the captain’s pick and captain’s call have slipped out of sporting jargon and onto the political football field. Political parties have even been accused of ball-tampering.

And so, we say to you, tenez! (“take, receive”), as a 14th century tennis player is believed to have called out before serving a ball (a French cry that reputedly gave tennis its name).

Allow us to bandy around (a tennis term) a few ideas here as we run with (a football term) a brief review of sporting lingo inside the bloody arena and throughout our daily lives.

Tickets and etiquette in ‘disport’

The word sport is a shortening of an earlier term disport, which from the 14th century broadly encompassed any form of relaxation or diversion.

In fact, from the 15th century, one meaning of sport was a playful reference to romance and lovemaking. This died off in the 18th century, but another 15th century meaning, “activity of skill and exertion with set rules or customs”, has withstood the test of time.

At sports events, you might see the reverse side of your ticket setting out rules of etiquette for spectators. Both derive from an Old French word estiquette meaning “note or label”. The word etiquette emerged in late 17th century French as a note detailing the rules and customs for engaging with the Spanish court.

But etiquette in modern sporting contests includes being nice to umpires. Sure, they make some tough calls, but so do we as English speakers.

Read more:
Why AFL commentary works the same way as Iron Age epic poetry

After all, the word umpire actually derives from the Norman French noumpere, corresponding to “non-peer”, the one who stood out among peers. (Linguistic boundary lines have been problematic for some time — but that, as the saying goes, is a whole nother story.)

Umpires try to keep the peace, but more than a few words derive from the punishing and warlike nature of sport. Melbourne Demons coach Simon Goodwin said his team would learn from the “drubbing” they received from West Coast.

We can only hope he intended the modern meaning of drub (“beat badly in a sporting contest”), and not the meaning associated with drub‘s 17th century Arabic origins (“the flogging of feet”).

Sporting language in everyday speech

We’re surrounded by sporting language, much of it from sports to which we no longer pay much heed — some forgotten entirely.

Archery has been quiet contributor over the years. The verb to rove “wander about with no purpose in mind”, for instance, comes from a 15th century archery term meaning “shoot arrows randomly at an arbitrarily selected target”.

The original upshot was the final shot in a match (a closing or parting shot). The first bolt was a crossbow projectile.

Even those disapproving of the “sport” of hunting have to admire its contributions to language. A tryst, now “an assignation with a lover”, was originally “an appointed station in hunting”. A ruse, these days a general term for “deception”, was the detour hunted animals made to elude the hounds.

These sagacious “acute-smelling” hounds would occasionally run riot “follow the scent of animals other than the intended prey”. Retrieving was flushing out their re-found quarry and worry “seize by the throat” was what they did to it once they got it.

Read more:
Get yer hand off it, mate, Australian slang is not dying

Hawking or falconry must have once played a central role in our lives for this sport has donated a number of expressions. Haggard was originally used to describe wild hawks, and to pounce derives from their pounces or fore-claws.

And reclaim or rebate referred to calling the hawk “back from flight”. It was carried out by a special pipe known as a lure, which is now a general word meaning “magnetism” or “attraction”.

Pall-mall player.
Wikimedia Commons

Some sports have completely disappeared but have left behind relics in some common expressions. Pall-mall (probably from Middle French pale-mail “ball-mallet”) was a croquet-like lawn game in the 16th and 17th centuries. It gave its name to straight roads or promenades (such as Pall Mall in London), before it then morphed into the shopping malls of modern times.

Even the medieval jousting tournament is the source of a few current expressions like break a lance, tilt at and at full tilt, meaning “at full speed”. (The tilt was originally the barrier separating the combatants and later was applied to the sport itself.)

These days, jousting refers generally to any sort of banter or sparring between individuals who might have thrown down or taken up the gauntlet, meaning “challenged” or “accepted a challenge”. (The gauntlet refers to the knight’s mailed glove).

Unlucky players might end up being thrilled (originally pronounced “thirled”), which doesn’t mean ecstatic, but rather pierced by a lance or spear.

Read more:
‘Too fat to get drafted’: the worrying body-image pressures in the AFL

Up there Cazaly!: on with the ‘people’s tournament’

And so we cry Up there Cazaly! (after the famed footballer Roy Cazaly) — on with the Grand Final, a.k.a. the big dance.

A mob football match in 18th century London.
Wikimedia Commons

And spare a final thought for the “people’s tournament” — the medieval game that gave us the word football. As Heiner Gillmeister points out, there is evidence this game was also opened by the cry tenez!

Whether it was played in the monastery cloisters (the arches forming the original goals) or in an open space (so-called “mob football” played between two villages — a tough gig for the boundary umpire), it was a bloody and riotous affair getting that ball full of wynde to the target area.

As Sir Thomas Elyot put it in The Boke Named the Governour (1531):

Nothinge but beastly furie, and exstreme violence

Like sport or hate it, we hope you’ve found our linguistic shirtfronting here gentle, fun and appropriate as far as captain’s calls go.The Conversation

Kate Burridge, Professor of Linguistics, Monash University and Howard Manns, Lecturer in Linguistics, Monash University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Cricket: Australia – The Baggy Green Cap

The link below is to an article that looks into the history of Australian cricket’s ‘Baggy Green Cap.’

For more visit:

The History of Bowling

The link below is to an article that takes a look at the history of bowling.

For more visit:

New Website Captures World Cup History

10 Incredible Facts About The FIFA World Cup

Article: Olympic Games Art Competitions

The link below is to the final article on a series of articles about art competitions in the Olympic Games.

For more visit:

Article: Biting in Sports History

The link below looks into some examples of biting in the history of sport.

For more visit:

Today in History: 16 March 1872

First FA Cup – Wanderers F.C. Defeated Royal Engineers A.F.C.

The first ever FA Cup is won by Wanderers F.C., defeating Royal Engineers A.F.C. 1-0 at The Oval in Kennington, London, England. The FA Cup is the oldest football competition in the world.

For more, visit:

See also the following Document:
Teams That Have Won the Football Association Cup

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