Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/340

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minutes and see if we cannot fan it into life; see if we cannot do something that will bring it back and save the reputation that has been twenty-six years in making— a reputation, gentlemen, that you need to be very careful and guarded how you throw away.

"This League has a great reputation. I have known something about its early career, its middle career, and have kept watching it. What was it for? What was the organization of this League for? To perpetuate, establish and maintain the integrity of Base Ball. What is this Base Ball that we talk about? I do not want to take much of your time, but let us take a few moments to answer this question.

"Base Ball is a distinctly American sport, suitable to the American character, played under rules known to every American boy ten years of age. And here is the National League, the guardian of that sport. To be the guardian of a nation's sport is no mean honor. I sometimes wonder if you realize the responsibility. Here, in your bickerings and your financial schemings, everything is subordinated to those features.

"The game first appeared back in the forties. In the latter part of the fifties it became known in New York, New England and Philadelphia. When the soldiers from those sections went into the army they took with them this new game of Base Ball. It was played in camps of both armies. At the end of the war it was disseminated throughout the United States, and there was a furore of Base Ball. So, gentlemen. Base Ball has a patriotic as well as sentimental and business sides.

"This National organization, which has stood for so many years, I hope may not expire to-day. I beg of you, think before you stab it to its death.

"Of course, as this game became popular all over the country, there was needed some form of organization. The first organization was the National Association of Amateur Base Ball Players, composed of clubs all over the Nation. That soon got into trouble because a man would come with two hundred proxies and elect himself president. The man who had the next number would be treasurer, and so on. You can imagine how long such an arrangement could last. It answered the purpose for the time being, but it was found inadequate. The next step was the semi-professional, or veiled-amateur era, as you might term it. From that came the full-fledged professional player, represented in the old Cincinnati Red Stocking Club in 1869. I was among those original professional players, and in a small way did what I could to relieve a certain odium that existed