Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/321

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291
AMERICA'S NATIONAL GAME

to first combine all of their players under the banner of the Brotherhood organization, the ostensible objects of which were the mutual benefits of its members, and to aid those who needed aid from sickness or misfortune. This was a very plausible plan, and apparently devoid of guile; but, in building up the Brotherhood, care was taken to bind its members by an ironclad oath—something unnecessary in the case of an organization designed exclusively to serve benevolent purposes. This oath, in fact, was the carefully disguised seed of the revolt, from which was developed the full-grown plant of the Players' League.

"Once having gathered the League players within the fold of the Brotherhood, the chief conspirator soon began to draw aside the mask of his disguise, and securing the cooperation of the more intelligent of his confreres in aiding the revolt, a quartette of leaders assumed the direction of affairs. These 'big four' of the great strike, correctly estimating the weakness of character and lack of moral courage of the average Brotherhood member, knew that he would be loath to break the oath of allegiance to the Brotherhood, however willing he might be to violate his National League obligations, and they went quietly to work on this basis to complete their plans looking to the ultimate declaration of war upon the National League and the establishment of the rival Players' League.

"It is a fact that cannot be gainsaid that fully two-thirds of the members of the Brotherhood, up to the close of the League campaign in 1889, had never contemplated the disruption of the National Agreement and the organization of a Players' League as the outcome of the Brotherhood scheme, or they would not have joined it. Naturally enough, the players' sympathies were with the success of the Brotherhood as an association of players for benevolent objects. But not until they had been influenced by special pleadings, false statements and a system of terrorism, peculiar to revolutionary movements, did they realize the true position in which they had been placed, and then a minority, who possessed sufficient independence and the courage of their convictions, returned to their club allegiance in the National League.

"A step in the progress of the revolt, which the leaders found it necessary to take, was that of securing the services of such journalists in each League club city as would lend their pens as editors of Brotherhood organs. This movement was deemed essential in order to bring a special influence to bear on such capitalists among the wealthier class of patrons of the game as were eager to join in a movement calculated to gain them a share in the 'big bonanza' profits of the money-making League clubs. Another use these organs and writers were put to, in forwarding the interests of the leaders, was that of denouncing every player who was independent enough to think for himself in the matter of revolt as a deserter or a