1890: The Boston Reds were born of the first labor strife in baseball. Unhappy with contracts they were receiving from teams in the National League and American Association, a group of star players led by John Montgomery Ward attempted to form their own baseball league called the Players’ National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs. Shortened to the Players’ League, the new major league had eight teams including the Boston Reds. The Boston Reds played their home games at the Congress Street Grounds, as had a roster full of familiar names including Old Hoss Radbourn, King Kelly, Hugh Duffy, Tommy McCarthy and Dan Brouthers. Hardy Richardson was the team’s leading hitter batting .328, with 16 home runs and league best 152 RBI. On the mound, the Boston Reds were led by Radbourn who posted a record of 27-12, while Ad Gumbert went 23-12. The Reds were the top team in the Players’ League, winning the only pennant with a record of 81-48. The Players’ League was unable to sustain itself as the league folded after one season, with the star players returning to the National League with their teams being brought out by NL Owners. The Boston Reds though would live on to play in the NL’s rival American Association.
1891: The Players’ League did great financial damage to the American Association. Already struggling with some of their best teams jumping to the National League, the AA was on shaky ground when the Players’ League arrived. The Boston Reds after winning the Players’ League Pennant were one of two teams with the Philadelphia Athletics to join the AA. While most of the Reds top players from 1890 departed Boston, the team was strong from top to bottom. Hugh Duffy was the leading hitter at .336, while Tom Brown hit 21 home runs. The Reds had three players top 100 RBI, with Hugh Duffy and Duke Farrell each driving in 110 runs, while Dan Brouthers had 109 RBI. On the mound, the Reds were led by George Haddock who had a record of 34-11, while Charlie Buffinton went 29-9. The combined efforts were enough to guide the Boston Reds to the pennant in the American Association as they finished the season with a record of 93-42, finishing eighth and half games ahead of the St. Louis Brown Stockings. As the season came to an end it was clear, that the American Association was in its last days. The National League had pressured the AA all season to consolidate as both leagues were hit hard financially by the Players’ League. For most of the existence of the American Association, the champion would take on the National League Champion in an unofficial exhibition series following the season. With the Boston Beaneaters winning in the National League, the Boston Reds were refused a chance to take on their NL counterparts. The Beaneaters would also block the Reds from joining the National League, as they were not one of the four teams that would move on, and were brought out following the season for $135,000 with their players being dispersed among the 12 National League teams.
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Page created on June 7, 2017. Last updated on June 7, 2017 at 3:45 pm ET.