Anson U.

Cap Anson in 1895

Cap Anson in 1895

Here is a scheme with echoes reaching to the present day, involving Cap Anson and Albert G. Spalding. As Anson described the prospectus in later years, “The fellow who invented that was certainly a crackerjack at his trade, and it wasn’t very difficult to discover what his trade was.” From Anson’s 1900 memoir, A Ball Player’s Career:

Just at this stage of affairs [1898] my plans for the future were apparently a matter of great interest to both press and public, and if the statements made by the former were to be believed, I had more schemes on hand than did a professional promoter, and every one of them with “millions in it.” I was to manage this club and manage that club; I was to play here and play there, and, in fact, there was scarcely anything that I was not going to do if the reporters’ statements could be depended upon. One of the most senseless of these was the starting of the A. C. Anson Base-Ball College, the prospectus for which was typewritten in the sporting-goods store of A. G. Spalding, and read as follows:

Location.—The school will be located on what is known as the A. G. Spalding Tract, covering the blocks bounded by Lincoln, Robey, 143d and 144th streets, upon which Mr. A. G. Spalding will erect suitable structures, fences, stands, dressing-rooms, etc. The site is in the celebrated Calumet region and is easy of access.

Membership.—All accepted applicants for membership will be required to submit to a thorough physical examination and go through a regular and systematic course of training, calculated to prepare them for actual participation in base-ball games. Upon entering they will subscribe to the rules and regulations of the institution, which will demand obedience and provide for discipline, abstemious habits, regular hours, proper diet, in fact everything which tends to improve the health and physical condition will be required. They must also pass an examination made by Captain Anson as to their natural aptitude for becoming proficient in the game of base-ball.

Instruction.—The course of instruction will consist of physical training by the latest and most approved methods, with the special intention of developing the body and mind, so that the best possible results may be obtained looking to perfection of base-ball playing. Daily instruction will be had in the theory and practice of the game.

Engagements.—As soon as students are sufficiently developed and display skill to justify, efforts will be made by the college management to secure lucrative engagements for those who desire to enter the professional field. Arrangements will be made with the various professional and semi-professional clubs throughout the country by which students of the college will come into contact with managers and be enabled to make known their merits.

Albert G. Spalding cigar box label

Albert G. Spalding cigar box label

Application for Admittance.—Persons who desire to become students of the college will be required to fill out and sign the regular application blank provided by the college, which must give information regarding the applicant, such as name, place of residence, height, weight, various measurements, past vocation, habits, state of health, etc., etc.

Charges.—Accepted students will be required to pay a tuition of $2 per week, at least five weeks tuition to be paid in advance, and must supply their practice uniform. The college will provide all team uniforms for use in games and all materials and utensils necessary for practice.

Then followed a showing of financial possibilities that would have done credit to the brains of a Colonel Sellers [].

It is unnecessary for me to say that this scheme never emanated from me, or that it never received any serious consideration at my hands, the real plan being to create a real-estate boom and enable Mr. Spalding to dispose of some of his holdings, using me as a catspaw with which to pull the chestnuts out of the fire.


I just read your article about stealing home. I didn’t know anywhere else to send this so I am sending to your Our Game blog.
I was thinking that in addition to asking Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, and Jackie Robinson about stealing home you might also want to ask Whitey Lockman and Filipe Alou about taking that same chance on a base hit with two out. It is often noted that in the 7th game of the 1962 World Series Roger Maris made a fine play on Willie Mays’ double and then threw a strike to Bobby Richardson, the cut-off man. But Richardson did not make a good throw home and Alou almost certainly would have scored if Lockman had not held him at third. Of course the penalty for failure in this case was astronomical, so maybe this isn’t a fair observation.
But one that I do think is fair is to state that intellectual inertia may not be the only reason we don’t see steals of home these days. I doubt that the number of runners who could actually pull it off even one-third of the time is very low. If a manager wanted to add the steal of home as an offensive weapon, he would have to first take a few of his best runners and drill them on the relevant techniques before turning them – and only them – loose to try it. But that would be an exciting addition to the game.
David Shoebotham

I agree completely, David.

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