1874 Boston Red Stockings. Click to enlarge. 19th century baseball rules. Click here. 1874 Philadelphia Athletics. Click to enlarge. Lawson's Patent Game, Baseball With Cards. Click here! Vintage Baseball Ad: Get the ball that started it all! Click here. Authentic style 19th century replica bases available now! Click here.

1874 World Base Ball Tour

By Eric Miklich


ince the Excelsior Club of Brooklyn's 1860 tour, clubs realized the exposure and possible monetary benefits of touring. Harry Wright, now of the manager of the Boston Red Stockings, wanted to return to England, his native country, and see if he could interest his countrymen in the game that he had mastered. The game was not well received and only drew substation crowds at a few venues.

In the winter of 1873, after only having played three years of truly professional baseball, Boston Red Stockings Manager Harry Wright selected his star 23 year-old pitcher, Albert Spalding, to sail to England and to garner interest for a baseball tour featuring the Boston Red Stockings and the Philadelphia Athletics.

Predictably, the stockholders for each team were not in favor of such an in devour and felt that it would be a financial failure. Some felt that it would affect the clubs during the pennant race. Regardless, Spalding left for England on January 17th and arrived on January 29th in Queenstown. He received interest from the Marylebone Cricket Club and the Surrey Cricket Club. According to Blackguards and Red Stockings by William Ryczek, Spalding "selected Charles W. Allcock, secretary of the Surrey CC, to coordinate affairs in Britain." During his time in England he organized the first game of baseball played in England on February 27, 1874. Allcock pitched for one side and Spalding the other with Alcock's nine gaining a victory in the six-inning game.

When Spalding returned to America, in mid-March, he had scheduled the two teams to play games in England, Scotland, Ireland and finish in Paris. The Americans were also expected to play cricket against their hosts in each country, which was the Britons main interest. Alcock was supposed to be promoting the American game but actually procrastinated.

The tour commenced in the summer of 1874 and twenty-three ballplayers and an entourage left America on July 16 aboard the Ohio. During the trip to England Harry Wright gave cricket lessons to the players to help prepare them. The players also passed the time by playing cards and chess and drinking. The expedition arrived in Liverpool, England on July 27.

The tour began on July 30 and baseball matches were played in Liverpool, Manchester, London, Richmond, Sheffield, and Dublin as well as cricket matches against the prominent clubs in each city. Alcock's lack of promotion further aided the failure of the Americans to draw large crowds to their matches. According to Phil Hynes, Alcock was central to the development of Soccer, Rugby and Cricket in England and perhaps felt that the tour was about Cricket and not baseball.

For the Americans the tour was about baseball but the Americans did not lose any cricket match they played against the locals and usually fielded 18 men to the cricketers 12 men. Baseball games in Scotland and Paris were never played and the tour ended on August 26 in Dublin before a disappointingly small crowd.

The Americans left Ireland, Queenstown, on August 25th on the Abbotsford and arrived in Philadelphia on September 9th. The two teams played a regular season match on September 10th with the Red Stockings winning 5-4.

The game of baseball was not well received during the tour, the tour was not successful financially and there was no residual effect of the game after the teams retuned to America. Both clubs combined for a total loss of about $2,500. The tour also affected each team's profit margin for the 1874 season with Boston breaking-even and Philadelphia only making $800.

Boston Red Stockings Roster

James White - Catcher
A.G. Spalding - Pitcher
Jim O'Rourke - First Base
Ross Barnes - Second Base
Harry Shafer - Third Base
George Wright - Short Stop
Andy Leonard - Left Field
Harry Wright - Center Field
Cal McVey - Right Field
George Hall - Substitute
Thomas Beals - Substitute
Sam Wright, Jr.* - Substitute

Philadelphia Athletic Roster

John Clapp - Catcher
Dick McBride - Pitcher and Captain
Weston Fisler - First Base
Joseph Battin - Second Base
Ezra Sutton - Third Base
Mike McGeary - Short Stop
Albert Gedney - Left Field
John McMullin - Center Field
Cap Anson - Right Field
Al Reach - Substitute
J.P. Sensenderfer - Substitute
Tim Murnane - Substitute

*Recruited primarily for his knowledge of cricket, Wright did not begin his professional baseball career until the 1875 season with the New Haven Elm Citys of the National Association.

Contributions to this page made by Phil Hynes, Charles J. McCarty and Tom Shieber.

1874 World Base Ball Tour: The Games Continued Continued.