League, and, while it might work apparent hardships to one or two individuals, its abolition would imperil the continuance of full eight club memberships and the employment of perhaps thirty fellow players. The Brotherhood Committee, therefore, wrote into the contract they had formulated that 15th paragraph, by which each signing player expressly concedes such involuntary transfer of the right of reservation to his services from his club—if it should disband or lose its League membership—to "any other Club or Association," provided his current salary be not reduced.
And the necessity for such power of preserving the circuit of a League, by approximately equalizing its playing strength, is recognized by the new League, which the seceding players have temporarily organized; for they give this "extraordinary power" of transferring players, with or without consent, and with or without club disbandment, to a central tribunal of sixteen, whose fiat is final.
In view of these facts and concessions, the use of such terms as "bondage," "slavery," "sold like sheep," etc., becomes meaningless and absurd.
At the annual meeting of the League in November, 1887, the Brotherhood asked and received recognition upon the statement of its representatives that it was organized for benevolent purposes and desired to go hand in hand with the League, in perpetuating the game, increasing its popularity and elevating the moral standard of its players. They disavowed any intention or desire to interfere with the business affairs of the League, the salaries of players or the "reserve rule," simply asking that the contract be so revised that it, in itself, would indicate every relation between a club and its individual players.
This "Brotherhood Contract," then accepted and adopted, has never been violated by the League, either in letter or spirit, and we challenge proof in contradiction of this declaration.
To correct a misapprehension in the public mind as to the alleged "enormous profits" divided among stockholders of League clubs, it may be interesting to know that during the past five—and only prosperous—years, there have been paid in cash dividends to stockholders in the eight League clubs less than $150,000, and during the same time League players have received in salaries over $1,500,000. The balance of the profits of the few successful clubs, together with the original capital and subsequent assessments of stockholders, is represented entirely in grounds and improvements for the permanent good of the game, costing about $600,000.
The refusal of the Brotherhood Committee to meet the League in conference at the close of the season proves incontestably that the imperative demand for a conference in mid-summer, to redress grievances that have never yet materialized, was a mere pretext for secession.