Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)

Degree Level





Elliott West

Committee Member

Patrick Williams

Second Committee Member

Jeannie Whayne


Social sciences, Baseball, Brotherhood, Gilded age, Labor, Players league, Spalding


In 1890, members of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players elected to secede from the National League and form their own organization, which they called the Players League. The players objected to several business practices of the National League, including aspects of the reserve clause in player contracts, the Brush Classification Plan to control their salaries, the buying and selling of players, and fines for various infractions. This dissertation explains how these events combined to produce the revolt by the players at the conclusion of the 1889 season. It also examines various other important aspects of 1880s baseball, including abuse of alcohol, treatments of umpires, physical training techniques, violence on the field, cheating, gambling, mascots, team finances, and racism in baseball. The dissertation illuminates various Social and economic aspects of life in Gilded Age America as well. Finally, it helps explain the importance of a little-understood era in the baseball’s history that lasted from 1885-1889 and contributed to confirming baseball’s status as America’s national sport.