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A. G. Spalding

AKA Albert Goodwill Spalding

Born: 2-Sep-1850
Birthplace: Byron, IL
Died: 9-Sep-1915
Location of death: San Diego, CA
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Cremated (ashes scattered over Point Loma neighborhood, San Diego, CA)

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Baseball, Business

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Baseball player, owner, and manufacturer

As a teenager, Albert Goodwill Spalding learned to play a popular new game called 'baseball', and became one of the game's first stars. Known for his straight-armed, underhand pitching, he became the first big-league pitcher to win 200 games, and led the National Association's Boston Red Stockings (later known as the Boston, then Milwaukee, now Atlanta Braves) to four consecutive pennants. He left Boston to play and manage the National League's Chicago White Stockings (now called the Cubs) in 1876.

In 1877 he retired from the field and began his second career, heading the A.G. Spalding & Bros company, the foremost manufacturer of baseball equipment. The company paid the National League to use its balls in games, so Spalding could advertise them as the "official ball of the National League". The company also published Spalding's Official Baseball Guide, an annual best-seller that was required reading for fans.

In 1907, a time before baseball had a Commissioner, Spalding was one of the sport's most respected names. He appointed a council to 'research' Henry Chadwick's claim that baseball had evolved from the English games of cricket and rounders. Spalding wanted baseball to be seen as "all American", and indeed, his council reported that the sport had been invented almost from thin air by Abner Doubleday in 1839, at Cooperstown, New York -- where the Baseball Hall of Fame was later constructed. In reality, of course, baseball was derived from cricket, and Spalding must have known it -- he played on a barnstorming team that toured England in 1874, playing both baseball and cricket in such cities as Manchester, London, and Liverpool.

Spalding was President of the White Stockings from 1882-91, during which time the team won five pennants. As a team owner he was a ruthless advocate of the "reserve clause" that prevented players from jumping to other teams, as he had done. He led the National League's successful effort to crush the Player's League, which had been established by the first ballplayers' union. He also sponsored a worldwide road trip for his team between the 1888 and 1889 seasons, playing against big league all-stars in Australia, Egypt, Italy, France, England, and Ireland.

In retirement he wrote America's National Game, a history of baseball's early years that somewhat exaggerated his own role. Two dozen years after his death, Spalding was inducted into the Hall of Fame when it first opened, in 1939. His nephew, Albert Spalding, was a noted violinist and composer. Spalding's sporting goods company is now owned by the Russell Corporation, which is in turn owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

Father: James Spalding (d. 1858)
Mother: Harriet Spalding
Brother: James Walter Spalding (co-founder, Spalding & Bros)
Wife: Josie Keith Spalding (m. 1875, d. 1899, one son)
Son: Keith Spalding
Wife: Elizabeth Mayer Churchill Spalding (mistress 1880s-1899, dated 1899-1901, m. 1901)
Son: Albert Goodwill Spalding, Jr. (born out of wedlock)
Son: Durand Churchill (stepson, from Elizabeth Mayer's first marriage)

    High School: Rockford High School, Rockford, IL (dropped out)

    Baseball Hall of Fame 1939 (posthumous)

Author of books:
America's National Game (1911)



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