Jun 5, 2023
Sports historian Bill Ryczek (Blackguards and Red Stockings: A History of Baseball's National Association; Crash of the Titans: The Early Years of the New York Jets and the AFL) returns after a five-year absence to help us unpack the intriguing story of 1884 - arguably the wildest season in major league baseball history.
In his latest tome, "Baseball's Wildest Season: Three Leagues, Thirty-Four Teams and the Chaos of 1884," Ryczek details a fragile professional game pioneered by a still-fledgling National League that found itself not only challenged by a two-year-old lower-priced, Sunday-playing, beer-allowing American Association - but also an upstart third circuit called the Union Association whose president just happened to also own its most dominant franchise.
1884 saw the first incarnation of an inter-league "World Series" (the NL Providence Grays defeating the AA New York Metropolitans); the majors' first-ever African-American player (the AA Toledo Blue Stockings' Moses Fleetwood Walker); a (still-standing) record start to a season (the UA's 20-0 St. Louis Maroons) - and more drunken brawls, mid-season team relocations, player league-jumping, and underhand pitching than any time in big league history.
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