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Pony Sager

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Samuel B. Sager

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[edit] Biographical Information

Pony Sager played in the first year of the National Association. History (and Cap Anson) recorded that Sager was from Marshalltown, IA and helped the team there win a championship in the days prior to the National Association, but research by SABR has put in question whether he was really from Marshalltown (see related sites). The 1850 census places his birth in Holmesburg, PA.

People talk a lot about revenue disparities in the major leagues today, but even the problems the Montreal Expos faced are nothing compared to the structural disadvantages a team like the Rockford Forest Citys faced in 1871. The majority of the "large market" teams were stock companies, which meant stock was sold before the season, and the proceeds were used to do things like pay players a salary. The smaller city teams - Rockford and Fort Wayne specifically - were not stock companies; they were co-ops.

This foray into sports socialism meant that players were not guaranteed anything except a share of the profits. In the thriving metropolis of Rockford, IL profits were hardly a sure thing, and as a result the Forest Cities' best players, Al Spalding and Ross Barnes, left the team after 1870 to play for big money in Boston, MA. To fill the gaps, Rockford poached Cherokee Fisher from the Troy Haymakers, and signed Pony Sager out of Marshalltown, Iowa. Sager was hardly a star in the making, but he did convince the team to also sign his teammate from Marshalltown, Cap Anson, which should give Sager credit for being a Hall of Famer, once removed.

[edit] Further Reading

  • "Pony Sager", in Bill Carle, ed.: Biographical Research Committee Report, SABR, May/June, 2010, p. 1.

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