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.
Base-ball, as it was called in the mid-1800s, was a lawless enterprise. Alcohol, gambling, rudeness, disloyalty and quitting (by players and teams) in the middle of a season, players sitting among the spectators, spectators disrupting play on the field were symptoms of a game that was in many ways considered disgraceful.