Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/164

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of Harry Wright and his confreres to take this step. There were at least three elements to be dealt with. First, that portion of the public—and it was at that time probably in the majority—who believed that Base Ball was simply an ordinary form of outdoor sport, a pastime, like cricket in England, to be played in times of leisure, and by gentlemen, for exercise, and only incidentally for the entertainment of the public, had to be reckoned with. This class felt that the game would suffer by professionalism; that it meant the introduction into the ranks of any man who could play the game skilfully, without regard to his "race, color or previous condition of servitude." It meant, they thought, the introduction of rowdies, drunkards and dead-beats. Somehow, it was felt that the game would lose in character if it departed from its original program, and they honestly deplored the proposed innovation.

Another class to be dealt with was the gambling element, and this opposition was not to be lightly considered. They had so long been a controlling influence, that anything threatening their ascendancy was sure to meet with stubborn resistance. Of course, their chief interest in Base Ball was what they could make out of it in the line of their nefarious profession. They feared that if the executive control of the game passed into the hands of men who also had cash at stake, it was a sure thing that just in so far as the management made money they must lose. They knew, of course, that the clubs must depend upon gate receipts for their income; that gate receipts depended upon the restoration of public confidence, and that public