Original Document
Original Document
The "Pirates" Earn Their Name, 1891.


Bierbauer Will Go to Pittsburg and Stovey Will Remain in the League

It was 3 o'clock this morning when the National Board adjourned. It had taken it from 8 o'clock until that time to reach a decision in the cases of Stovey and Bierbauer. The other cases caused but little discussion. At u o'clock this morning the board announced that it was ready to give its decisions, and invited all the base ball people in the rotunda of the auditorium to be present. Among those who accepted the invitations were: Von der Ahe, Anson, Cushman, of Milwaukee; President Beck, of Sioux City; Gillette, of Milwaukee; Gus. Schmelz, Billy Harrington, Director Cohn, of Columbus; Jim Hart, Baron Hach, Billy Barnie, Arthur Irwin, J. Walter Spalding, Davis Hawley, A. G. Spalding, Van Horn, of Denver; John T. Brush, and others. J. Palmer O'Neil and Ned Hanlon were also interested spectators.

President Thurman announced the decisions, prefacing them with a long speech, in which he said that the board had conducted its investigation with the care and accuracy which marks a court of justice. He touched on the Stovey and Bierbauer cases first, and the decision was briefly as follows:


The neglect of the Athletic Club to reserve Bierbauer on October 10 1890, for the season of 1891, in accordance with the fourth section of the National Agreement, then governing the case, released him from reservation and from the jurisdiction of the National Agreement, but a majority of the board think that if the approval of the report of the Conference Committee by both the League and Association implied an intent and, understanding that all club members of both leagues and associations except the new Association Club of Philadelphia should waive the right to negotiate for the services of Bierbauer and other former Athletic players then that understanding would amount to an estoppel of the Pittsburg Club from making the contract now under consideration, but as it is not susceptible of proof that such agreement of waiver was so universally implied, we are all reluctantly compelled to sustain the contract of Bierbauer with the Pittsburg Club. Stovey's case was decided in the same way.

This decision was signed only by John I. Rogers and Thurman. Mr. Krauthoff entered a minority report. He claimed that the proceedings which culminated in the adjustment of the recent difficulties in base ball circles were of such a character that all the National League and Association Clubs waived their strictly legal rights to contract with these players and left the Philadelphia Association Club free to do so.

Connie Mack, the Buffalo catcher, was also given to Pittsburg. It was announced that on investigation it was found that Arthur Irwin's agreement with Mack had been made some weeks before the Boston Club was admitted to the American Association, hence the dub practically did not exist at the time. The Pittsburg contract, on the other hand, was in good form, and the player was awarded to the Smoky City.


The case of Denny Lyons, who was claimed by Chicago and St. Louis was cut off in short order. The Chicago Club holds a contract signed by Lyons with the Chicago Brotherhood Club. It was declared that such an organization did nor exist now, and the player was given to St. Louis, with whom he has since signed. Powell, of Spokane Falls, was released from reservation, his dub having failed to pay him back salary on the time promised.

J. Palmer O'Neil was in the seventh heaven of delight to-night, and the Association men are a disgruntled set. J. Earl Wagner said that it was an outrage. The League had pretended that it was willing to do anything to help the Association, and at the first chance had taken advantage of a technicality to sign two of the Association players. By the decision, however, he is left in undisturbed possession of Hoy, for whom no claim was made. Wagner made a last effort to secure Pickett to-day, but failed, and the player signed with Kansas City.


The National Board finished its work at 8:30 to-night. A new form of contract was adopted, to be used in all leagues under the National agreement control. The copy of it calls for a seventh months' term, with a clause giving clubs the option to retain the player for the ensuing year. The record calls for a twelve months' contract by which the player can be paid each month of the twelve. By this means clubs will have control of the player during the entire year.

The minor leagues were divided into four classes, with different grades of protection. Class A has protection for contract and reservation. Class B has protection but any club in the three major leagues' can at any time during the season draw on this league for a player, with the latter's consent, and by paying a stipulated price. Class C gives protection for contract only. Class D protects a contract, but any of the grades above it can draw on it for a player during the season by paying a stipulated sum.

The control of the umpires in the three major leagues was turned over to Nick Young, and he will sign and assign them to duty. A form of questions was drawn up which each manager must draw up and send to the chairman of the board the fifth of each month, showing the character of every player in each club, and listing their imperfections of every kind. The list is a very comprehensive one. The matter of appointing official scorers was left to the various clubs, but Nick Young will compile all official records of all leagues under the control of the National agreement.

The Association men were terribly warm over the decision to-day, and swore vengeance, but they are cooler to-night and no break is possible. Billy Barnie was the most rabid of the set.

The League held a conference to-day, all the clubs but Boston being represented. It was decided at the League meeting in March, to adopt the equal division of gate receipts. The sales system was taken up and all the clubs agreed to sign a clause to do away with it. The meeting backed Brush up in his work in Cincinnati, and instructed him to go ahead and organize his club irrespective of Al Johnson. The National Board's next meeting will be in New York in March.

The three "major leagues" are the NL, the AA, and the Western Association, which cosigned a new National Agreement drafted after the 1890s season. The WA was never considered equal to either the NL or the AA.-Ed.

Credit: Philadelphia Press, February 15, 1891.
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