In 1876, a group of owners and team officials gathered at a New York hotel to draft and sign the constitution that created baseball’s National League and would ultimately have ramifications far beyond the diamond. The principles the document laid out, largely the work of Chicago White Stockings owner William Hulbert, would provide the basic model for every major team sports league in the world that followed. The constitution is getting a public airing for the first time in more than a century when it’s put up for sale by SCP Auctions of Laguna Niguel, California, starting Wednesday.
A year after selling the much-publicized 1857 “Laws of Base Ball” for $3.26 million last year, SCP Auctions will offer the documents that led to the formation of Major League Baseball beginning next month. The 1876 “Founding Documents and Original Constitution of Major League Baseball,” is a previously unknown hand-written, 74-page artifact that auction officials say is of “unprecedented historical significance.”
On Feb. 2, 1876, Chicago White Stockings president William Hulbert called a meeting with the owners of several National Association teams beset by financial troubles and a lack of meaningful central authority, the N.A. was floundering, and Hulbert wanted to create something better from its ashes. By the end of the day, the National League was born.