Major League Baseball Season Recap: 1876

League Champion: Chicago White Stockings

Year In Review : 1876 National League

After a tumultuous six-year existence, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NA), folded following the 1875 season. The National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs (NL) was formed in Chicago, Illinois by businessman, and owner of the Chicago White Stockings, William Hulbert, for the purpose of replacing the NA, which he believed to have been corrupt, mismanaged, full of rowdy, drunken ballplayers, and under the influence of the gambling community. One of the new rules put into place by the new league was that all teams had to be located in cities that had a population of 75,000 or more. The initial NL season began with eight teams, and they were asked to play seventy games between April 22 and October 21. The NL is considered to be the first “major league”, although it has been argued that the NA can make that claim.

National League: Chicago White Stockings

Champions of the West: St. Louis Brown Stockings (Unofficial postseason)
Four premier semi-professional teams were in play in 1876. They were the Binghamton Crickets, the Columbus Buckeyes, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys and the Syracuse Stars. In competition against NL clubs these 4 semi-pro teams played 32 games – winning 16, losing 14 and tying 2 contests. Of the 60 players on these 4 semi-pro teams no less than 50 of them wound up playing in the National League over the next 5 seasons.

Off the Field…

General George Armstrong Custer was killed along with two-hundred sixty-four Union Calvary troopers after engaging the Sioux tribe at Little Big Horn. Not realizing the overwhelming numerical superiority of the Native Americans, the 7th Calvary had made a crucial tactical error by dividing their forces into three separate divisions. A Civil War hero, Custer had fought at the first battle of Bull Run, distinguished himself in both the Peninsular campaign as well as Gettysburg and was selected as the Union officer to receive the Confederate flag of truce at Appomattox Courthouse.

In the National League…

The National League of Professional Baseball was formed with an eight-team circuit consisting of the Boston Red Stockings, Chicago White Stockings, Cincinnati Red Legs, Hartford Dark Blues, Louisville Grays, Philadelphia Athletics, Brooklyn Mutuals and St. Louis Browns. All owners agreed to play a seventy game schedule between April 22 and October 21.

In April, the Chicago White Stockings debuted the first shutout in baseball history with a 4-0 effort over the Louisville Grays. On May 25th, the Philadelphia Athletics matched the Grays 2-2 for the first tie in Major League history.

On June 14th, George Hall of the Philadelphia Athletics became the first player ever to hit for the cycle.

The White Stockings went on to win the first National League pennant after defeating the Hartford Dark Blues by six games. They finished the season 52-14 followed by Hartford, St. Louis, Boston, Louisville, New York, Philadelphia and Cincinnati.

“Everything is possible to him who dares.” – Al Spalding

On May 2, 1876, Ross Barnes of Chicago hit the first National League home run which was an inside the park variation. Cincinnati pitcher William “Cherokee” Fisher served up that historic pitch.

Did you know that on July 15, 1876, George Bradley of St. Louis pitched the first National League no-hitter against Hartford?

Are you curious about which player hit the first single, double or triple? How about the first pitcher to throw & win two complete games on the same day? Scan through the19th Century Era Famous Firsts to see these and learn even more about the first ever National League season.