History::American Association (19th century)


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History The American Association distinguished itself in several ways from what it considered to be the puritanical National League. The new league established teams in what the NL leaders pejoratively called "river cities", including Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville and St. Louis, with the inherent implication of lower morality or social standards in those cities. Living "down" to the NL's Victorian prejudices, the AA offered cheaper ticket prices, Sunday games and alcoholic beverages to its patrons.<ref name="SABR">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref>:p.55 As such, the American Association was the world's first professional sports league designed to out-compete another by better accommodating blue-collar tendencies and attitudes toward spectator sport.

On November 8, 1881, at the Gibson House in Cincinnati, it was decided that individual teams in the league-to-be would operate their own affairs and set their own admission prices,<ref>The Encyclopedia of Louisville, John E. Kleber</ref> under an agreement called the "guarantee system". The NL at that time prohibited the sale of alcohol on its grounds, while the AA had no such restrictions, especially as several of its teams were backed by breweries and distilleries. The AA became known as "The Beer and Whiskey League", another pejorative term applied by NL owners, and which did not seem to bother the fans of the Association's clubs.

Beginning in 1884 and continuing through 1890, the champion of the AA met the champion of the NL in an early version of the World Series. These early Series were less organized than the modern version, with as few as three games played and as many as fifteen, and the contests of 1885 and 1890 ending in disputed ties. The NL won four of these Series, while the AA won only one, in 1886 when the St. Louis Browns (now Cardinals) defeated the Chicago White Stockings (now Cubs).

Over its lifetime, the AA was weakened by several factors. One was the tendency of some of its teams to jump to the NL. The consistently stronger NL was in better position to survive adverse conditions. Some owners of AA teams also owned a NL team.<ref name="SABR" />:p.58 The most significant blow to the AA was dealt by the Players' League, a third major league formed in 1890, which siphoned off talent and gate receipts. In a rare historical oddity, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (now the Los Angeles Dodgers) won the league's championship and represented the AA in the 1889 World's Series, switched to the NL during the off-season, and then repeated the same feat.

No player who spent the majority of his career in the AA is in the Hall of Fame. The living legacy of the old Association is the group of teams that came over to the National League to stay. The Pirates moved to the NL after the 1886 season, the Bridegrooms/Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds after the 1889 season, and the Browns/Cardinals after the American Association folded following the 1891 season. Following the reorganization and contraction of the NL from 12 teams down to 8 in 1900, half of the eight surviving teams were former members of the AA. Several of the AA's home-field venues survived into the 1960s: The ballpark used by the 1891 Washington club evolved into Griffith Stadium; the home of the St. Louis Browns, Sportsman's Park; and the city block occupied by the Reds, which evolved into Crosley Field. Crosley was the last physical remnant of the AA to go, other than the clubs themselves, when it was replaced by Riverfront Stadium in mid-1970.

Three of the teams that switched over from the AA to the NL after the AA folded following the 1891 Season, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals, have posted more than 10,000 lifetime major league victories.<ref>http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/</ref> However, in August 2009, the Cardinals' organization stated that 700+ victories posted by the Cardinals while they were members of the AA would be stricken from their records because they felt that only victories accumulated after the team joined the NL should count. There is, however, a movement afoot to have the team reconsider that position.<ref>http://thecardinalnationblog.com/2009/08/22/not-recognizing-10000-wins-ignores-american-association/</ref>

American Association (19th century) sections
Intro  History  Revival effort  Pennant winners of the AA  American Association franchises  Timeline  AA presidents  References  External links  

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