1898 Atlantic League
The third year of the league that "made" Ed Barrow, this is a gorgeous
example of a carousel. Notice the balance among the four "southern
teams" of this loop: One of either Richmond, Lancaster, or Reading
took turns beating up Norfolk while the other two clubs had to face
each other during sectional play. This drove the carousel while the
four "northern teams" lollygagged.
All leagues are oriented either south-north or east-west: the Atlantic
League was always of the south-north variety. With few exceptions,
all pre-1969 schedules took advantage of this orientation and
dedicated specific parts of the season to "sectional play" and
"intersectional play". Sectional play meant (for the Atlantic League)
that the southern teams played among each other during a given
period, and in this way seasons almost always started with a three or
four home and road game series versus each other southern club. Then
the schedule would take southern clubs into a long road trip into
"northern territory" which usually ended Memorial day. The northern
clubs would then visit southern territory. This could usually be
repeated three, sometimes four times, to complete a schedule, and,
additionally, patterns over time were honored such as southern teams
visiting the north on the first road trip in even years, and northern
teams visiting the south on the first road trip in odd years, etc. This
geographical component of schedules and leagues is the reason that
leagues were referred to as "circuits" and "loops" in the days of old.
Prior to 1898 Billy Sharsig moved his reincarnation of the
"Philadelphia Athletics" - a team which entered the Atlantic league
mid-1896 - to Allentown, where it was the only Pennsylvanian
member of the northern circuit.
Typical of the 1890's, this league hit some solvency problems in
July. Hartford owner Mr. Birmingham simply quit in the face of debt
and recently released Brooklyn manager Billy Barnie quickly raised
enough money to purchase the team. But this cash did not include
player back salaries and the players refused to recognize this new
ownership: Barnie dropped the deal, and league President Barrow
created a co-operative plan by which the Hartford players themselves
owned the team.
The Norfolk players too went unpaid through most of June, and went
on strike July 11th. Barrow suspended all of them, stocked the team
with replacement players, and they won 15 of their last 60 games.