Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/230

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the Chicago Club signed an exceptionally strong player he was sure to be stolen from her; that contracts had no force, because the fellows down East would and did offer players increased salaries and date new contracts back to suit their own ends.

To a man of William A. Hulbert's fibre this sort of thing was a firebrand to kindle all the heat of an ardent and combative nature.

It was something to be resented, to be fought, to be overcome. And so when, in 1875, he was urged to accept the Presidency of the Chicago Base Ball Club, he did not turn the matter down, as he might have done under different circumstances, but took it under advisement, and asked for time.

It was at this stage that I first met Mr. Hulbert. I had been playing on the Boston team as a professional for several years. Our nine had won the pennant three years in succession and had it cinched for the fourth. It was becoming monotonous. The effect of such an uninterrupted succession of all-season victories was to destroy interest in the game. "There's no use going." "Boston's sure to win." "She's hasn't lost a game on the home grounds this year." Such expressions were heard every day, and gate receipts were small. For myself, I felt that the time was ripe for a change. Moreover, I was heartily disgusted with what I saw going on all about us. I knew that gambling was practiced everywhere; that such players as had not stamina to resist the overtures made to them were being caused to swerve from the legitimate ends of the game, and to serve the illegitimate pur-