SEPT 12, 1883: A new major league
Submitted by BTGrimes on Wed, 09/12/2012 - 7:00am
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - The Union Association formed on this date in 1883. It was one of many professional baseball leagues to surface in the late 1800’s as baseball established itself as a significant industry as well as pastime. According to Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball, the National Association, National League, American Association, Players League and Union Association were just a few of the “major” leagues that came to be over a hundred years ago. Most did not survive in name, but all made their mark on the National and American Leagues that exist today.
Koppett says that the chief backer of the Union Association was Henry Lucas of St. Louis. One of Lucas’ investors was Adolphus Busch of the Anheuser-Busch brewery. The league had teams in eight cities, and played a 112 game schedule. At least that was its intent. Several teams tried different cities but some didn’t survive the 1884 season, which became the only season of the Union Association’s existence. All the leagues were fighting over the same star players, creating bidding wars that doomed all but the most solid leagues.
One source of the Union Association's demise was the belief that Lucas stocked his St. Louis team with the best players and ran away with the championship. While the UA didn't survive as a league, St. Louis survived as a team which was eventually absorbed in the National League and are today's St. Louis Cardinals.
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