The Spitter History Project: 1891 -Death of the AA

Years:  1891

A/K/A: The End of the AA, Mostly Self-Inflicted

Best Teams: Boston (AA) 93-42, Boston (NL) 87-51, St. Louis (AA) 85-51, Chicago (NL) 82-53

Worst Teams: Louisville (AA) 54-83, Washington (AA) 44-91, Pittsburgh (NL) 55-80, Cincinnati (NL) 56-81

Average Roster Size: 21

Average Pitching Staff Size: 7

Roster Highs: Washington (AA) had 38 players suit up. The Statesmen had 13 players play under 10 games for them.

Roster Lows: Baltimore (AA) was the lowest full-time team with 18, including 18-year old John McGraw.

Staff Highs: Washington (AA) used 12 pitchers. Cincy’s short-term AA team used 11 hurlers, including five one-game wonders (some are position players).

Staff Lows: Baltimore (AA), Pittsburgh (NL) Brooklyn (NL), and Cincy (NL) used six, least for the full time teams.

Players Who You Should Know (But May Not): George Haddock, Bill Hutchinson, Harry Staley, Tom Brown, Duke Farrell

Names, Names, Names: Cinders O’Brien, Sumner Bowman, Roscoe Coughlin, Egyptian Healy, Jouett Meekin, Wild Bill Widner

Died Too Soon: John Cassidy, Larry Corcoran, Bill Crowley, Ed Daily, Jim Fogarty, Grasshopper Jim Whitney

Solid Leadership: Art Irwin, Frank Selee

Horrible Mismanagement: Jack Chapman went from first to last in the AA, but that was mainly due to the PL disbanding. Past and future great managers Ned Hanlon and Bill McGunnigle led Pittsburgh to ignomy.

Rule Changes: The modern sub rule was enacted. Catchers could now wear padded mitts.

Let’s Play the Feud: Past AA and PL owners vs. current owners. AA vs. NL, to the death.

So, Here’s the Thing: After the owner snuffed out the Players’ League, there was the process of re-uniting players with their teams, or dispersing some to other teams. Well, the process didn’t really suit the AA, but their mismanagement and in-fighting really hurt their cases. The AA decided not to play nice with the NL anymore, but the league was weak politically and financially, too.

After the debacle of 1890, the PL Philly team moved to the AA. The Boston PL team also basically moved over to the AA. The AA told Rochester, Syracuse and Toledo to take a hike, and kept Baltimore around. Washington was added, and when the NL Cincinnati ownership had problems (also related to the New York Giants in the NL), the AA decided to give Cincy an AA team organized and led by Mike “Killer” Kelly.

At this time, Kelly was becoming more and more hampered by booze. The team also had a park on the east side of Cincinnati, which was the boondocks. The team realized they needed another park, and decided to suspend operations in August. Milwaukee of the Western League imported many of Cincinnati players and took the place of Cincy in the AA.

Kelly was more of a mangler than a manager. They drank a lot and just kind of was more into carousing than playing. As soon as the team disbanded, Kelly moved to Boston of the AA (his old PL team), but then jumped to Boston of the NL soon after. That infuriated the AA, but they were powerless for the most part since they were the one to suspend the agreement with the NL. The AA also fell to infighting, with four presidents on the year.

The Boston Reds were probably the best AA team in its history. Tom Brown scored an incredible 177 runs with 106 ‘steals’. Hugh Duffy, Duke Farrell and Dan Brouthers brought the lumber and they had a great 1-2 punch in their rotation with George Haddock and Charlie Buffinton (53-20 between the two of them).

Meanwhile, in the NL Boston went out to a slow-ish start, but started to turn it around at the end of June. Still, they trailed Cap Anson’s Chicago squad by 6 ½ games on September 15th. Boston won their next 17 games (15 at home), while the Colts went 6-9 during the same time fame (even with a five game winning streak).  Chicago gave up 63 runs in their last five games of the year.

But while cranks in Boston supported both teams, the NL decided not to play a series between the two Boston teams. That would have only helped the AA, and they wanted to basically crush the competition.

So after the season, some AA owners decided to go try and join the NL. This led to the AA collapsing, and the NL sweeping in, buying out some teams and absorbing others. They didn’t take the best teams – that would give some teams in-town competition. So St. Louis, Baltimore, Louisville and Washington came to the NL (2nd, 4th, 7th and 8th) while the champ Boston Reds were left to dust and Milwaukee went back to the Western League.

So, going into 1892, the NL had finally outlasted everyone, and had a monopoly on ‘major league’ baseball. There were 12 teams, supposedly stable. That didn’t prove to be true.

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