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1880s

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The 1880s were the first full decade for major league Baseball. The rules were still changing almost yearly, resulting in vast differences in player performance. Pitching staffs consisted of one or two men early in the decade, leading to most pitchers ruining their arms before age 30 and few pitchers making it through the decade.

The 1880s saw the formation of the American Association as the first rival to the National League. While it became competitive, personality conflicts led to several teams deserting the AA for the NL and the talent level began slipping before it ever reached that of the NL. The two leagues participated in a World's Series starting in 1884, with the NL winning all but one. Stars of the decade included Dan Brouthers, Deacon White and John Clarkson.

Record-setting performances include Matt Kilroy striking out 513 batters in 1886 and Old Hoss Radbourn winning 59 games (by the current count; sometimes it has been listed as 60 or 58 in the past).

The minor leagues were slowly expanding but were in a state of constant flux. Few leagues survived for more than a couple years. Still, they were already becoming the primary training ground for future major leaguers as well as a home to washed-up ex-MLBers.

Baseball was being played on a limited stage internationally. The Cuban Winter League was active for most of the decade, but that was the lone international professional circuit to have any success.

There were no formal Negro Leagues. Several all-black teams played at times, but the top black players this decade often played in the minors. Segregation was spreading in baseball but was not the rule yet. Fleet Walker and Welday Walker even played in the majors, and other possible African-Americans who did not reveal their heritage were active. In the minors, players such as Bud Fowler, George Stovey and Frank Grant were starring in integrated leagues, often in the highest tier of the minors.


Years National League American Association Postseason
1880 1880 NL
1881 1881 NL
1882 1882 NL 1882 AA
1883 1883 NL 1883 AA
1884 1884 NL 1884 AA 1884 WS
1885 1885 NL 1885 AA 1885 WS
1886 1886 NL 1886 AA 1886 WS
1887 1887 NL 1887 AA 1887 WS
1888 1888 NL 1888 AA 1888 WS
1889 1889 NL 1889 AA 1889 WS

[edit] Further Reading

  • Edward Achorn: The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America's Game, PublicAffairs, Perseus Books Group, New York, NY, 2013. ISBN 978-1-61039-260-0
  • Jean-Pierre Caillault: The Complete New York Clipper Baseball Biographies: More Than 800 Sketches of Players, Managers, Owners, Umpires, Reporters and Others, 1859-1903, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2009.
  • Christopher D. Green: "Baseball's First Power Surge: Home Runs in the Late 19th-Century Major Leagues", The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 40, Number 2 (Fall 2011), pp. 99-103.
  • Bill James: "The 1880s", in The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, The Free Press, New York, NY, 2001, pp. 35-51.
  • David Nemec: The Beer and Whisky League, Lyons Press, Guilford, CT, 2003. ISBN 978-1558212855
  • Ryan A. Swanson: When Baseball Went White: Reconstruction, Reconciliation, and Dreams of a National Pastime, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2014. ISBN 978-0-8032-3521-2


Years
19th Century
1850s   1857 1858 1859
1860s 1860 1861 1862 1863 1864 1865 1866 1867 1868 1869
1870s 1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875 1876 1877 1878 1879
1880s 1880 1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889
1890s 1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899
20th Century
1900s 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909
1910s 1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919
1920s 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929
1930s 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939
1940s 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
1950s 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
1960s 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
1970s 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980s 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990s 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
21st Century
2000s 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
2010s 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
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