Ups and Downs of the Worcester Base Ball Club: The 1880 Book

F.E. Pollard in Worcester City Directory, 1889, p_edited-1Worcester’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.


Remarkable! Is it your opinion that this was the only copy produced by Pollard? Or were there others at one time?


Fascinating. The 1-0 “whitewashing” of Cleveland on June 12 was baseball’s first perfect game, thrown by John Lee Richmond.

I feel certain that others were produced, given that three postcards have survived with images from the book.

At that time no meaningful distinction was made between a no-hitter and a shutout. The former was simply an instance of the latter. A perfect game was not utterly without precedent, however, as Jim “Pud” Galvin had thrown one in 1876:

“On August 17, 1876, during a tournament held in Ionia, Michigan. Galvin threw the first recorded perfect game in baseball history, against the Cass Club of Detroit in an 11-0 victory. This feat was accomplished before the term ‘perfect game’ was in the baseball lexicon, but the Ionia Sentinel clearly spelled out the performance, leaving no doubt about the achievement: ‘The Cass boys did not make a base hit or reach first base during the game. Each man of the club batted three times and each was put out three times.’ Galvin’s feat was all the more impressive because he threw a no-hitter earlier that day against the Mutuals of Jackson, Michigan, in which the defense behind him committed three errors. Galvin’s accomplishments should not be taken lightly because they were not recorded in the major leagues, as the Cass Club and the Mutuals of Jackson were competitive and talented professional teams.” See:

This is a great find! The illustrations are wonderful. I especially like all of the pigs in reference to the Cincinnati games.

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