Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/302

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At last the Brotherhood of Base Ball Players feels at liberty to make known its intentions and defend itself against the aspersions and misrepresentations which for weeks it has been forced to suffer in silence. It is no longer a secret that the players of the League have determined to play next season under different management, but for reasons which will, we think, be understood, it was deemed advisable to make no announcement of this intention until the close of the present season; but now that the struggles for the various pennants are over, and the terms of our contracts expired, there is no longer reason for withholding it.

In taking this step we feel that we owe it to the public and to ourselves to explain briefly some of the reasons by which we have been moved. There was a time when the League stood for integrity and fair dealing. To-day it stands for dollars and cents. Once it looked to the elevation of the game and an honest exhibition of the sport; to-day its eyes are upon the turnstile. Men have come into the business for no other motive than to exploit it for every dollar in sight. Measures originally intended for the good of the game have been perverted into instruments for wrong. The reserve rule and the provisions of the National Agreement gave the managers unlimited power, and they have not hesitated to use this in the most arbitrary and mercenary way.

Players have been bought, sold and exchanged as though they were sheep instead of American citizens. "Reservation" became for them another name for property right in the player. By a combination among themselves, stronger than the strongest trust, they were able to enforce the most arbitrary measures, and the player had either to submit or get out of the profession in which he had spent years in attaining a proficiency. Even the disbandment and retirement of a club did not free the players from the Octopus clutch, for they were then peddled around to the highest bidder.

That the player sometimes profited by the sale has nothing to do with the case, but only proves the injustice of his previous restraint. Two years ago, we met the League and attempted to remedy some of these evils, but through what has been politely termed "League diplomacy" we completely failed. Unwilling longer to submit to such treatment, we made a strong effort last spring to reach an understanding with the League. To our application for a hearing, they replied that "the matter was not of sufficient importance to warrant a meeting," and suggested that it be put off until fall. Our committee replied that the players felt that the League had broken faith with them; that while the results might be of but little importance to the managers, they were of great importance to the players; that if the League would not concede what was fair, we would adopt other means to protect ourselves; that if postponed until fall we