MINORS 1898

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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.

 

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