Union Association (1884) Professional Team
Players’ salaries were low because professional teams finances were low prior to 1880.
During the start of the 1880s there was only one professional major league team, the National League, which played its' inaugural season in 1876. Urban growth stimulated the economy, and fans were looking for ‘fun-in-the-sun’ pastimes. Fans flocked to watch the National League teams ‘play-ball’. Its good fortune brought about rival professional leagues. In 1882 the American Association (AA) challenged the established NL. The next season, 1883, another baseball rival came onto the scene, the Union Association. The NL and AA joined forces to crowd out the new league and, it lasted just one season. In fact four of the 11 UA teams lasted less than 25 games and folded.
In 1884 millionaire Henry Lucas formed the Union Association to compete with the established National League and American Association. Lucas made Fred “Sure Shot” Dunlap the highest-paid player in baseball by paying him $3,400 to jump to the new league—and to Lucas’s own St. Louis Maroons. Dunlap, as player-manager for the Maroons, led the league in batting (.412), home runs, hits, runs, slugging average, and on-base percentage. St. Louis finished 35½ games in front of the second-place team.
After the Union Association folded a year later, the National League fined Dunlap $500 for his dalliance with the outlaw league. When St. Louis replaced Cleveland in the NL, Dunlap returned to his former team once again, but in 1885 the club came in last. During the next season Detroit bought Dunlap’s contract, and he helped the Wolverines win the NL pennant the following year.
Dunlap and Detroit center fielder Ned Hanlon did not get along, and that may have played a part in Dunlap’s being sold again in 1888, this time to Pittsburgh. He shocked baseball by holding out for a percentage of the purchase price. Eventually he received $6,000 in salary and bonus, a staggering amount for the time, but the holdout cost him half of the 1888 season. In 1889 he batted a mere .235 for Pittsburgh and was released early the following season.
His once-exceptional range in the field gone, Dunlap played one game for New York in the Players League in 1890 and ended a comeback attempt with Washington in 1891 after suffering a broken leg. Although he left baseball a wealthy man, Dunlap was reportedly in poverty at the time of his death a dozen years later.
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Following from baseballhistorian.com Archives
Note: The St. Louis Maroons won the Union Association Crown with a 94-19 record, 21 games ahead of 2nd place Cincinnati 69-36, 3rd place Baltimore 58-47, 32 GB
Union Association Batting Average Leaders
Fred Dunlap, St. Louis .412 in 101 games… Orator Shaffer, St. Louis .360 in 106 games… Harry Moore, Washington .336 in 111 games… Jack Gleason, St. Louis .324 in 92 games… Emmett Seery, Baltimore (105 G) and Kansas City (1 G) .313 total 106 games
Union Association Pitching Leaders
Billy Taylor, St Louis 25-4, .862 percentage… Charlie Sweeney, St. Louis, 24-7, .774 pct… Jim McCormick, Cincinnati 21-3, .841 pct… Bill Sweeney Baltimore 40-21, .656 pct… George Bradley, Cincinnati 25-15, .625 pct… Richard Dick Burns, Cincinnati 23-15, .605 pct
Bill Sweeney, Baltimore 40-21… Hugh ‘One Arm’ Daily, Chicago/Pittsburgh and Washington 28-28… Billy Taylor, St Louis 25-4… Charlie Sweeney, St. Louis 24-7
Complete Game Shutouts
Jim McCormick, Cincinnati 7 shutouts (21-3 record, 24 games)… Dupree Shaw, Boston 5 (21-15 record, 39 games)
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Billy Taylor, Pitcher, Baseball Card - Kalamazoo Bats (N690) Charles Gross & Co. Issued 1887
Jim McCormick, Pitcher, Baseball Card - Old Judge (N172) Issued 1887-90
Fred Dunlap, 2nd Baseman & Manager, Old Judge (N172) issued 1887-90
Click on baseball cards to enlarge