Albert Goodwill Spalding 1850-1915
Pitcher-Center Fielder-First Base
Rockford Forest Citys 1868-1870*
Boston Red Stockings 1871-1875
Chicago White Stockings 1876-1877
Manager-Owner-Sporting Goods Magnate
*No statistics readily available from Rockford days.
Quote: “Baseball is the exponent of American Courage, Confidence, Combativeness, American Dash, Discipline, Determination, American Energy, Eagerness, Enthusiasm, American Pluck, Persistency, Performance, American Spirit, Sagacity, Success, American Vim, Vigor, Virility.”
Career WAR: 52.2 (pitching) 6.8 (batting)
Best Season: 1875: 54-5 1.59 ERA 136 ERA+ 2.09 FIP 1.036 WHIP 14.2 WAR (12.8 pitching WAR)
Known For: Was considered the league’s premier pitcher, and had the most wins in the league in each of his six full seasons. Won 54 games in 1875. Became president of the Chicago White Stockings and led the team to 5 pennants in the 1880’s. Innovator of the game – introduced spring training and organized world tours to expand popularity.
The Bad: Was one of the pioneers of the reserve clause system. Actively pushed the Doubleday myth
Interesting: One of the first star players to use a glove, though it was good business since he was already selling gloves during his playing days.
Name on Baseballs: Yes – every ball used up until 1976 had Al Spalding’s name on it.
Drinking and Gambling: Against. Spalding wanted a clean game, which is why he was supportive of the new National League in 1876. When he sold players, he made sure to get rid of the drinkers first.
Forbidden Zone: Ran for the U.S. Senate 1910.
Comments from Voters:
“Al Spalding won nearly 80% of the decisions he played in. One season, he went 54-5. Wins and whatnot aside, that’s crazy. The best pitcher in the National Association era, almost certainly.” -Nibbish
“Spalding has those impressive win totals, but he never led the league in any of the rate statistics. The year he went 54-5, his team average over 10 runs per game and led the league in every offensive category. The team as a whole went 71-8.” – Beau
“He was an above average pitcher, did the sporting goods going, and was a great early promoter of the game, but the anticompetitive stuff he did to break up the Players League (essentially union busting) and his role in the institution of the reserve clause caused me to withhold my vote.” – CarterHayes