Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cleveland Baseball History , Part II

1879 .....professional baseball finally comes back to Cleveland ! The National Association was now known as the National League , a change which took place in 1876. Al Spalding got the new league to start using the "The Spalding League Ball" , produced by his sporting goods company , replacing the "Mahn" ball ( which had been used for the last several years.The new Cleveland team was known as the "Blues". Cleveland pitcher , Bobby Mitchell was the the first southpaw to win a came in the new league but the team only managed to win a total of 27 games against 55 losses for a 6th place finish out of 8 teams.Pitcher Jim McCormick was credited with starting 60 games , leading the league with 40 losses and 74 BB. His total of 546.1 innings was only good for 5th place , 133.2 , behind the leader's 680 !

1880 saw the Blues surge to a 3rd place finish with a record of 47-37 ! McCormick had a huge turnaround leading the league in games with 74 , IP with 657.2 , complete games with 72 and wins with 45. His ERA of 1.85 was only good for for another 5th place finish.They were still lacking offensively , however , with a team batting average of only .242 and scoring 387 runs ( league leaders : .279 and 538 ). 1880 also saw the beginning of the reserve clause. Each team could "reserve" the services of 5 players for the following year.Initially , some players looked at it as a form of status or value to the team , but with only 11 or so regular players on each team nearly half received the "status". Owners quickly saw it as a way lock players in at a lower salary. National League president , William Hulbert , removed the Cincinnati club from the league for selling liquor in their park and trying to play games on Sunday !

1881 Well , you knew it wouldn't last. The Blues tumbled to 7th place out of 8 with a 36-48 record. McCormick was still among the league leaders in several pitching categories , unfortunately , losses was one of them with 57.Catcher , John Clapp led the league in walks with 35 and 2nd baseman Fred Dunlap hit .325 but league leading Chicago hit .295 as a team.

1882 brought some major changes so that will be the next post. Also , still working on Cleveland baseballcards. The oldest I've found so far is 1897 Old Judge.


  1. I came across this after reading this entry:

    It features some 1880's Old judge cards along with a history of the Blues.

    I love this history you are putting together!

  2. Thanks !! I love that web site.I had heard of a vintage baseball league in the area and I was going to research it this summer.I didn't know it included a "Blues " team.The schedule shows a couple games in Mansfield which is only about 30 minutes from here.I'll try to get some pictures this summer !!

  3. You must be loving the MLB Network right now...they have showed 2 consecutive days of Indians spring training games on their channel.

  4. I always enjoy that channel , any time any place !!