William Hulbert and the National League

William Hulbert of the Chicago team wanted two things before the 1876 season.  He wanted his Chicago team to be powerful again and he wanted to clean baseball up with the creation of a new league. This idea formulated in his mind during the boring season of 1875. To accomplish both of these things, he needed Al Spalding.  So late in the 1875 season, Hulbert contacted Spalding, pleading to his western roots.  "You're a western boy" he told him, "You need to play for Chicago".  This pleading and the promise of a percentage of gate receipts was enough to entice Spalding, who set about recruiting others.  He was able to recruit Cal McVey, Deacon White and Ross Barnes, all of whom with Spalding made up the "Big Four".  Somehow though, word got out and the Boston press and fans turned on the players.  Spalding got the brunt of it and luckily for Boston, they were so far ahead late in the season that the ridicule did nothing to hinder the teams success.

So, Hulbert had his plan in motion.  He also would recruit Cap Anson from Philadelphia late in the season.  The National Association owners, especially in the east were upset.  The season was not even over and here was Hulbert recruiting for next year.  It was illegal they felt, but Hulbert did not care.  He wanted a fight but he would welcome the owners too.  Finally the season ended and Hulbert called for a meeting with "western" owners.  They met in January of 1876 at the Galt House.  Representatives from Chicago, St. Louis, Louisville and Cincinnati were present.  They all fell in line so Hulbert turned to the eastern clubs.  He invited them to a big meeting for February 2nd at the Grand Central Hotel.  It would go down as one of the biggest meetings in baseball's history, let alone early baseball history.

As the story goes when all the owners showed up, Hulbert preceded to close the door and then lock it.  To answer all the puzzled looks, Hulbert stated that he wanted no one to leave until they had heard what he had to say.  Hulbert then preceded to explain everything he had in mind, beginning with the creation of his National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs.  His main focus was making