National Board of Control

From BR Bullpen

The National Board of Control was created as a result of the peace settlement between the National League, American Association and Players League following the 1890 season. The settlement was brokered by Allen W. Thurman, a minority stockholder of the AA's Columbus Solons who was named as the chairman of the three-member board as a result. The board was to rule over disputes over the contracts of players who had been signed by the Players League, which was now going out of business, and needed to be reassigned.

The first major cases presented to the Board were that of second baseman Lou Bierbauer and outfielder Harry Stovey, who had played for the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association before jumping to the Players League and then signing with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, in Bierbauer's case, and the Boston Beaneaters in Stovey's, after the Players League folded. The Board ruled against Philadelphia, with chairman Thurman casting the deciding vote, justifying its decision by the fact that the Athletics had not formally reserved their rights to the disputed players. The Pittsburgh team is known to this day as the Pittsburgh Pirates because of this affair. The AA owners were furious, dismissed Thurman as the league's president at a meeting in New York on February 18, 1891, and denounced the National Agreement, under which the AA and NL had agreed to respect each other's contracts. At that point, Thurman, still chairman of the Board, declared that all players signed with AA clubs were fair game for the National League, and another war between the two major leagues started.

One of the players taking advantage of this development was Cupid Childs, who had earlier signed a contract with the Baltimore Orioles of the AA. He claimed his contract was no longer valid and signed with the Cleveland Spiders of the NL. The Orioles sought an injuction in a Baltimore court, but on April 24, the judge ruled in favor of Childs, stating that by denouncing the National Agreement, the AA had thereby invalidated the clauses which bound Childs to Baltimore. The American Association, already in a weak financial position, would not survive this latest war, folding at the end of the 1891 season.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Charles C. Alexander: Turbulent Seasons: Baseball in 1890-1891, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, TX, 2011.