1874-1875 Off Season
Two more clubs are added at the insistence of Boston and New York. Both clubs are losing money from their secret deal to purchase the Hartford franchise, but unwilling to fold the team to prevent their machinations from becoming public. The entrance fee of the new teams is needed to help meet the upcoming season’s payroll. For travel purposes, the eastern team in placed in New Haven, Connecticut. Chicago’s McCormick finds an investor—his brother—to place a team in Keokuk, Iowa. His reason: “The east has their undeserving city in New Haven, we have to have one of our own to balance the scales.” McCormick opposes expansion, maintaining at least 1/3 of the players already in the league do not have the talent to play at the level the Empire League imagines it has. McCormick favors reducing the size of the league to “no more than eight, with 6 preferred.”
The approves an 88 game schedule, and many players openly complain the $500.00 league mandated salary (openly violated for Alton Emch and covertly for others) was fine for the original 40 game schedule and should be increased. “The days of slavery were ended by Lincoln,” New York first baseman (and 1874’s outstanding hitter) Darryl Weisenburger says. “We deserve the respect every workingman craves.” Owners issue warnings of the increasing “socialism” among the players. New York third baseman Frank Richardson, 22 years old and already a four-year veteran, endears himself to ownership by taking a strong stand against those “European radicals who would destroy this great country.” Richardson publicly challenges Weisenburger by assuring, “if he [Weisenburger] brings any of his anti-Christian, anti-American friends to our clubhouse, they will be shown how a real American treats Reds.” Some of Richardson’s stronger comments, about the influence of “Jewish and Negro saboteurs” do not get the same coverage as his more jingoistic quotes. Richardson is rewarded by being named field captain; Weisenburger is released by New York. He is quickly signed by Chicago, which is quickly gaining a reputation as a destination for talented malcontents.
Privately many owners are becoming concerned with the financial health of the league. Keokuk, Hartford and New Haven are all question marks as viable “elite” professional cities. Washington and Cincinnati find themselves searching for new investors to make up for sagging attendance. Cincinnati, for failing to live up to the legacy of the 1869 Base Ball Kings and Washington for the constant losing. Several owners express concern the league could collapse after the 1875 season, if not sooner.