The story of William Hulbert is one of loyalty to baseball and desire to be the best. Hulbert not only wanted a winning baseball team but he also wanted a successful baseball league. Thus, when he the failing National Association with it's gambling and drunkenness Hulbert made his move. His first step was to recruit Al Spalding back to his Chicago team. From there, Spalding recruited three other stars to join Hulbert's team while Hulbert put the wheels in motion to form a new league.
While the Hulbert-Spalding partnership was strong, it was Hulbert's strong will and determination which helped form the National League. He wanted a league of clubs, not a league of players. He set up strict rules with a focus to avoid the problems which beset the "NA". He main focuses were;
1.He wanted strong financial teams, thus cities had to have atleast 75,000 in population.
2.It would cost $100 in annual dues - not $10 like N.A.
3.Private corporation in a sense. Two clubs could blackball another
4.Management in charge - players had no say.
5.Strict rules against gambling, drinking and language.
"Founder of the National League"
The National Association club owners did find out what Hulbert was up to but he did not care. He wanted them to know and invited them to meet with him on February 2, 1876. His strong personality and confidence in building a respected league, won over the club member and the new National League was formed. Although he was still owner of the Chicago club, he was elected commissioner.
Although he would die six years later, he proved his authority in two main issues that arose. First issue happened in the inaugural season of 1876 when his Chicago team already clinched the championship. Seeing that the season was over, both the Philadelphia and New York clubs decided to skip their western trip. Hulbert instantly expelled them from the league which stated that it was the game of baseball over money. The second incident occurred in 1877. The Louisville team was ahead of the Boston team late in the season but suddenly lost 8 of the last 9 games with one tie. Rumors of fixing games turned out to be true and four players were instantly banned from baseball; including an old friend of Hulbert's Jim Devlin. Louisville disbanded later and Jim Devlin would continue to try to get into baseball even going to Hulbert office a few years later. A tear-filled meeting ensued and although Hulbert would give money to Devlin, he would not allow him back into the league. Baseball over money and baseball over players.
Hulbert's importance has been down-stated over the years(did not get into Hall of Fame until 1995) but he was the power behind baseball becoming respected and he was the founder of National League.