Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/237

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207
AMERICA'S NATIONAL GAME

Now, it is just as natural for a ball player to play his best to win as it is for a duck to swim. They don't know any other way to play the game. The "Big Four" and their associates on the Boston team of 1875 were determined to show the fallacy of the idea that good players ever lose interest in Base Ball. We rather overdid the thing, for the Boston nine never lost a game during 1875 on the home grounds, and closed the season with a record of 71 games won and 8 lost, or a percentage of .899, which record has never been equalled in professional Base Ball.

After the close of the season of 1875 there were mutterings in the press to the effect that at the next annual meeting of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, which was to be held in March, 1876, the Boston "Big Four" and Anson and Sutton, of the Philadelphia Athletics, would be expelled for violation of the rule prohibiting players from signing contracts with other clubs during a pending season. I discussed this phase of the question with Mr. Hulbert while visiting at his home in Chicago in the fall of 1875: I probably exhibited some uneasiness on that subject, but Mr. Hulbert answered by assuring me that whatever happened Chicago would pay the salaries of her players in full. Chicago, he said, had been working for years to get a winning ball team, and now that she had finally secured one, he proposed that Chicago should have what was coming to her.

William A. Hulbert was a typical Chicago man. He never spoke of what he would do, or what his club would do, but it was always what Chicago would do. "I would