William Hulbert

A Chicago businessman who owned the Chicago White Stockings of the National Association, Hulbert induced several stars from eastern teams, including Philadelphia’s Cap Anson and Boston’s Al Spalding, to jump to his team for the 1876 season. The NA was a weak league, beset by gamblers, failing franchises, and rowdy and drunken behavior among players. Hulbert avoided any action by the NA over his pirating of players by convening several responsible team owners and founding the National League. Although Hartford owner Morgan Bulkeley was the figurehead president in the NL’s first year, Hulbert was actually in charge. In 1877, he officially took over as president. He introduced regular schedules (and expelled New York and Philadelphia for failing to fulfill theirs), banned alcoholic beverages from ballparks, and worked to eliminate gambling on games. In 1877, when the Louisville club began to fritter away a 3-1/2 game lead in August, Hulbert supported an investigation that uncovered evidence of game-fixing. Four players were banned for life. When Hulbert died in 1882, he left a league firmly established.