Ups and Downs of the Worcester Base Ball Club: The 1880 Book
Worcester’s three-year franchise in the National League (1880-82), largely unknown to the current generation of fans, leapt from obscurity with the recent civic unrest in Baltimore and the unprecedented staging, on April 29, of a game between the Orioles and White Sox before no paying customers. Had there ever been such an event in the whole history of the game, inquiring minds wanted to know. Not really, I stated, but there had been a game played before a paid attendance of six in Worcester on September 28, 1882; the home team lost to Troy, 4-1. As reported in the Worcester Evening Gazette, only three dollars had been taken in at the gate, with the price of admission being 50 cents. The game on the following day, Worcester’s last in the National League, drew only 18 fans. The late-season cold and damp formed only part of the reason for the stunningly small crowds; both Troy and Worcester had learned in the previous week that their NL franchises would not be renewed. Both teams finished at the bottom of the standings, losing money for their managements and, with chronically poor attendance, providing no meaningful receipts to visiting clubs. The two clubs would be replaced, in 1883, by new clubs in New York (today’s Giants) and Philadelphia (today’s Phillies).
But in 1880, when the franchise was born, things looked rosy for Worcester. Here, as promised yesterday, is a page-by-page view of Ups and Downs of the Worcester Base Ball Club: League Season 1880, reproduced with the gracious permission of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library. This is handheld camerawork; the original was too fragile to contemplate scanning. Created by engraver Frederick E. Pollard in 1880, it survives in only this copy. Although no place of publication is listed we may presume that artist and engraver Pollard was also the publisher, in the city of Worcester.