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Tramping Door-to-Door and Around the World 

Alfred Lawson left the shelter of his parents� roof in 1886, at age 17, just as his older brother George had done five years earlier. He still went by his childhood nickname of �Alf,� which he would abandon for �Al� at age 21. He had run away from home for short periods earlier as a teen, and during those episodes had had learned the dangerous science of hopping rides on freight trains. This was done while trains were already moving, beyond patrolled stations and yards. Empty and open boxcars offered the best shelter, but Alf also learned how to ride short bumper platforms between carriages; or on the tops of cars, and even on the front of the engine�s cowcatcher. Riding freight trains was fraught with dangers: exposure to cold; arms or legs being caught on the train�s hardware; being dragged under wheels; use of violence by the rail employees; and fights with other tramps.  

It was a mode of travel favored by tens of thousands of itinerant workers and nomadic non-workers, starting with displaced veterans of the American Civil War. Over the next seventy years, their ranks grew to include those driven from steady jobs by frequent cycles of economic depression. Some used travel to get from one temporary job to another; others adopted tramping as a lifestyle. Alfred Lawson�s written memories offer no indication of his train-hitching being part of a social phenomenon: there is no mention of other tramps, and little mention of the problem of finding food, clothing, shelter, and work. Instead, Lawson seemed to look back on this time with nostalgic satisfaction at having mastered the art of mobility. 

The American public had mixed attitudes towards tramps. On the one hand, the United States was founded by settlers and immigrants, and by the late nineteenth century embraced the concept of Manifest Destiny. Westward expansion was seen as granting opportunity and freedom to those willing to pull up their family roots�and distance-shrinking technology like the railroads and the telegraph were quickly adopted to facilitate this mobility. However, the descendants of white Europeans also inherited a mistrust of �master-less� vagrants and vagabonds, viewing them as a threat to lawfulness and morality. During the 1870s and 1880s, long-settled sections of the United States experienced a �Tramp Scare,� that demonized tramps as a whole, whether they were honest migrant workers, temporarily homeless, or committed to a vagabond lifestyle. Many localities began passing anti-vagrancy laws, and temporary shelters were organized in cities to try to control their effect on the urban areas where they tended to congregate. 

Although there is plenty of evidence that Alfred Lawson spent his whole life as a sort of vagabond--never content to stay in one place very long--beyond his teen years he never indicated that he was homeless, unemployed, or without the means to pay for his food, shelter, or transportation. By his own account, his freight train hitching ended in the spring of 1887, when he arrived in Frankfort, Indiana, and on the same day pitched for their independent baseball team in a game against a professional league club. Unexpectedly, he threw a shutout against the heavy favorites. He was offered pay of $40.00 a month for the summer to pitch and play the outfield. That same summer, he moved from the Frankfort, Indiana team to another upper Midwest industrial town, South Bend, Indiana. 

By the late 1880s, the sport of baseball had been professionalized for many years, but was not nearly as organized as it became in the twentieth century. The first recognized professional league was the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, which flourished from 1871 to 1875. It suffered from frequent failures of franchises, due to inequalities in attendance, expenses, investment, and talent. It had a weak governing authority, which resulted in contract jumping and players influenced by gambling. A stronger National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs was founded in 1876 that addressed several of these problems, but it, too, suffered from a similar instability until 1881. In 1882 a rival professional league was started, the American Association, that also played in Eastern and Midwest cities. It competed with the National League by offering the public lower ticket fees and by selling alcohol at games, which was outlawed in the National League. 

Beyond these two major leagues existed thousands of local amateur clubs, semi-professional independent teams, barnstorming teams, town teams, company-sponsored leagues, and semi-professional and professional minor leagues. The United States had been swept by a �base ball craze� starting in the later part of the nineteenth century, part of a national trend of growth in leisure time and variety in recreational activities. There were no set lines between amateur and professional play; teams would fill out their schedule with whatever other teams could offer competition that people would pay to see. Even major league teams would agree to contests with minor league and independent teams, if their schedule allowed. It was not until the twentieth century that the farm system of minor league affiliation with major leagues came into being. In 1883, a �National Agreement� signed between the two major leagues, with appended articles that minor leagues could enter into, attempted to set mutual rules for salary negotiations and against luring players away from their existing contracts. This agreement was modestly effective at the major league level, but less so at the minor league level. It took more than twenty years from the first National Agreement to strengthen those commitments at the minor league level. 

In the late 1880s, the upper Midwest region where Alfred Lawson started playing baseball supported early incarnations of regional minor leagues: the Western League (with cities as far-flung as Denver and Milwaukee); the Interstate League (Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana); the Michigan League; the Ohio League, and the International League (Western New York, Ontario, northern Ohio). The composition of these regional leagues fluctuated from year to year�if they survived more than one season. Larger cities supported multiple local leagues. Chicago, for example, had a City League, and a handful of company-sponsored leagues: the Garden City League; the Commercial League; the Mercantile League, the Market Street League, the Wholesale Grocers League, etc. The sports pages from cities with amateur and local leagues would often contain announcements of open dates for unscheduled games, or to announce such hastily-arranged games. 

In 1888, Alfred Lawson played for three teams: Dowagiac, Mich., Goshen, Ind., and Fort Wayne, Ind.. Indiana city teams, including the Frankfort and South Bend clubs that Lawson had played for the previous year, tried to form an Indiana State League in 1888. Fort Wayne was in this League, but like many local minor leagues, it collapsed at the end of June due to financial difficulties. Many minor leagues were too fragile to survive stretches of bad weather or municipal crackdowns prohibiting Sunday play. Lawson�s play for those three teams likely took place in a matter of weeks, not months. 

The game itself was both a recognizable variant of the play seen in the sport more than a century later; but so different in its variables that statistics from the nineteenth century are difficult to compare to the modern game. Through the 1870s and early 1880s, fielders other than the catcher did not wear gloves. As gloves came into vogue in the late 1880s, they were very limited in size and weight. The ball was �deader�, i.e. harder to lift into the air, and therefore resulted in fewer long flies to the outfield or home runs. Infielders were much more active, and because of the restrictions on gloves, games included many more errors, more base running, and higher scores. Bats were heavier and thicker in the handle.  

There was no pitcher�s mound; pitching was done within the confines of a chalked box that varied over the years (and by league) in size, but from 1887 on measured 5 � feet long by 4 ft. wide. The distance from the center of home plate to the nearest line of the pitcher�s box was 50 ft. The pitcher�s box was replaced by a rubber plate in 1893, and the distance from the rear of the plate to the rear of home plate was set at 60 � ft. The lack of a mound more than compensated for a shorter distance between the pitcher and batter, giving an edge to the batter. The strike zone was defined for the first time in 1887. From 1883 to 1889, five balls constituted a walk, not four. 

Professional players tended to come from modest backgrounds, where the decision to pursue sport as a career was not outweighed by more lucrative prospects in a profession or trade that demanded year-round attention. New first generation Americans of Irish and German descent provided a large proportion of the professional ranks. The color line that kept African-Americans out of the major leagues wasn�t solidified until the 1890s�but individual white players and owners were dedicated to segregation even earlier. This occurred less frequently in the minor leagues and on independent teams, where talented black players were sometimes recruited�and where games against all-black barnstorming teams were a popular draw. The ethnic background of many professional players, combined with their itinerant lifestyle, the gambling scandals of the 1870s, the frequent breaking of Blue Laws against Sunday play, rowdy fan behavior, and the sale of alcohol in some leagues�combined to give professional baseball a disreputable image. Even so, it quickly rose above prizefighting and horseracing in popularity. 

Through the 1880s, one professional team was recognized as a dynasty, and generated more newsprint than all other major league teams combined: the Chicago White Stockings of the National League. They reigned as champions in the seasons of 1876, 1880-1882, and 1885-1886, or 6 of the first eleven years of the League�s existence. The Chicago juggernaut was dominated by two personalities: club president Albert G. Spalding and player/captain Adrian C. �Cap� Anson. Spalding was a former major league star who built a sporting goods manufacturing empire while still playing, and had been groomed to take over as head of the Whitestocking organization by his predecessor as president, coal merchant William Hulbert. Spalding entrusted the on-field management of the team to Anson, the game�s most consistent hitter and fielder�with a temperamental, pugnacious, and intolerant personality. Anson�s leadership qualities were unquestionable: he led by example, demanded perfection, developed innovative strategies, and looked for every advantage the rules (and their interpreters, the umpires) could offer. The fans, or �cranks� as they were then called, of other teams loved to hate Anson, but gave him his due respect.   

As Alfred Lawson bounced from team to team in Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin in the late 1880s, he traveled within a semicircle of influence cast from the hub of Chicago by the White Stockings. In 1888, the same year Lawson appeared as a player for Fort Wayne, a Fort Wayne newspaper despaired over the losses of its own team, which at one point it nicknamed the �Neverwins.� It wrote: 

�The following paragraph by a well-known base ball writer contains food for reflection for members of the Fort Wayne team: �In the Chicago team base ball is made a matter of great and weighty business, elsewhere it is sport. In the Chicago team the will of one man dominates every player, rules him on and off the ball field, influences him in his recreation, proscribes his diet, regulates his coming and going and inspires his play; elsewhere there are conflicting influences in club management, and the play does pretty much as he pleases. In the Chicago team every man must do his best for the club�s success; elsewhere men play for their own records. In the Chicago team there are nine men playing as one; elsewhere there is a team playing as nine men. In Chicago every bad play brings certain punishment and indifference is an unpardonable crime; elsewhere favorite players can make costly errors with impunity, and play without effort whenever they feel that way. That is all there is to it. In the Chicago team the discipline is sharp, stern, inexorable, certain. No horse-play, no tom-foolery, no discussion�grave, earnest, deliberate business. Every morning that it does not rain, at 10 o�clock the team presents itself for practice. No toying with the ball nor idling on the benches. Hard work. Two sharp eyes are watching every play and noting every error. It is diligent, patient training, day after day.�� 

Despite the fact that Lawson�s skills as a pitcher were growing, if he read the above commentary, his career as a player might have taken a very different turn if he had both heeded its advice and noted that these remarks were a reflection on the work ethic of Adrian Anson.

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In between baseball seasons, Al Lawson earned his living selling sewing machines door to door. Two of Lawson�s brothers would have long careers in sewing machine sales: his younger brother Donald Lawson spent his career with the Singer Manufacturing Company, rising to the position of regional sales manager; and George Lawson was a sewing machine dealer in Boston and Hartford. It is not known which brother started first in the sewing machine business; possibly it was urged on them by their father Robert Lawson, a carpet weaver descended from a long line of weavers in Bethnal Green, London. Robert�s sons were sent to trade school in Detroit, where they learned tailoring�and they had also helped run their father�s home factory weaving machines. 

The home sewing machine was an established product by the late 1880s and 1890s. Sewing machines had been designed by several inventors working independently from one another since the beginning of the 1800s, but the most crucial components were patented by Elias Howe in the 1840s. However, Howe could not sell his very expensive, hand crafted, somewhat unreliable commercial design. In 1851, Isaac Singer added some improvements to Howe�s basic design that made it perform consistently better. Singer also had the bullish temperament to emerge as the survivor of what were deemed �the sewing machine wars,� in which different manufacturers tried to protect their separate patents and sue their competitors. Though not always the winner in legal disputes, Singer did either pay to get the patent rights he needed or got his competitors to agree to a patent pool. In the mind of the public, Singer stood out as the single-minded inventor, a dynamic man of the times. 

Initially, the sewing machine was not an easy sell to the home market. It cost far more than all but the richest households could afford. Its main benefit--high productivity compared to hand stitching�was not immediately seen as a boon by the patriarchs that often dominated the American home. They viewed sewing as women�s work, and (in their eyes) those women were not otherwise employed, so an expensive time saving device meant little. These were formidable obstacles to the success of Singer�s company, and he countered that by developing marketing strategies and sales practices that every bit as innovative as his product. The foot soldiers of the industrial empire that Singer created were his door-to-door salesmen. 

It is tempting to draw a connection between the aggressive tactics of the Singer sales force and the amoral character of Isaac Singer (as will be seen later, salesman George H. Lawson was a match for Isaac Singer in quality of character).It is hard to imagine a man less deserving of success than Isaac Singer. His early adult years were split between stints as a machinist and acting on the stage, where his vanity exceeded his talent. Unable to control his passions, Singer�s divided career allowed him to accumulate two wives and eight children even before he started to tinker with sewing machine design. After seeing a sewing machine of flawed design in a shop where he was working, Singer�s mechanical instincts grasped the improvements needed for a practical device. He immediately sought out investment partners�and quickly cheated one of them out of his share after success was all but guaranteed. Throughout the 1850s, financial success only allowed Singer to have two more mistresses, each who thought she was a wife, and ten more children. When one wife saw Singer with another of his women, she accosted him and was beaten for her impudence. When a daughter tried to intervene, he beat her, too. By the time of his death in he had accumulated two more �wives� and more children. 

Isaac Singer envisioned his product as becoming a fixture in homes, and designed successive models to be lighter, cheaper, and easier to use. However, it was his partner Edward Clark who developed the sales marketing techniques that led to the company�s immense success. Clark was as calculating and priggish as Singer was impetuous and flamboyant, so the growth of the company into the first American-based multinational corporation and the worldwide ubiquity of tenacious Singer salesmen was more Clark�s legacy than Singer�s. To Clark goes the credit for convincing consumers to buy the expensive appliance by offering them a long-term installment buying plan, so the machines could be purchased with more affordable monthly payments. Clark also developed a shrewd buy-back plan for used, older models�which the company destroyed to prevent the development of a market for used parts that would keep the sturdy machines running indefinitely. Clark also introduced showrooms with machines being demonstrated in their window fronts; a sales force trained in also providing instruction and repair, and a parts distribution network. 

By the 1880s, Singer�s company had for many years been the largest employer of door-to-door salesmen. Although �drummers� had been a fixture in American life since the colonial period, it was the corps of Singer salesmen who were responsible for the popular image of quick talking, high powered sales pitches that would eventually be applied to encyclopedia salesmen, vacuum cleaner salesmen, and Fuller brush salesmen. In the late nineteenth century, American towns began passing anti-canvassing laws to go along with their anti-vagrancy laws, treating both with about the same level of prestige. Singer salesmen reached every corner of the globe, willing even to market their wares to aboriginal tribes on a barter system. Mechanized stitching was a technology that every culture seemed to immediately grasp and appreciate. Singer�s worldwide network of agents was compared as second in size only to the Vatican. 

Beyond installment plans and buy-back plans, Singer agents developed other sales techniques. Very quickly they realized that they mad to market to women, and convince them that sewing machines would help them manage their time better. Isaac Singer himself might have been the last person in the world with a concern for improving women�s sense of control over their lives, but that was exactly the appeal of his product. Salesmen were instructed to approach homes while the man of the house was away. In Singer showrooms, women were hired to demonstrate the machines and dispel the common myth that women were not capable of operating mechanical devices. Singer offered ministers� wives machines at half price, knowing that their word-of-mouth would generate more new initiates than any other community figure. In some neighborhoods, Singer simply gave away a machine to a lucky woman, in return for spreading the word about its marvelous benefits. Sewing machine salesmen introduced the idea of sponsoring �sewing parties,� a technique refined a century later by Tupperware sales agents. 

Alfred Lawson developed his own sales gimmick. With his athletic build, Lawson was able to carry the sewing machines through the streets in his hands, rather than in a cart. Though advertised as �portable,� the units were still very heavy. Women answering the door were distressed to see the pleasant-looking young man laboring under his heavy load, and would invite him in just to set it down and avoid over-straining him. Getting inside the house was half the battle to a salesman. Lawson reported that instant sympathy was even more welcome from attractive clients, from which it is apparent that a signed contract was not always his sole motivation. Throughout his life and in many other endeavors, Lawson always kept in mind the skills he learned marketing to women. It was a very different environment than the entirely male world of sports that occupied his summers. 

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The president of the National League�s Chicago White Stockings, Albert Spalding, had been brooding over an audacious scheme for two years. In March, 1888 he announced to the world that he planned to sponsor a tour of major league players to Australia later that year. Spalding himself had been a major figure in an early baseball tour of England in 1874 that was not a financial success, but in 1888 he had a compelling reason to try to evangelize the American game to other continents�he manufactured the equipment used in the game, and was ready to install sales agents overseas. He could compel his own team, the White Stockings, to participate in the tour, and even found an enthusiastic co-investor in Cap Anson. For opponents, he approached and convinced star players from other League teams. They would come to be known as the �All-Americas,� and they were led by the captain of the New York Giants, John Montgomery Ward. The incentive Spalding dangled was an all-expenses paid trip from Chicago, plus a $50 a week bonus. Few of even the best paid ballplayers had ever had a chance to make an overseas visit in their lives, so it did appeal to many of the names Spalding had targeted. 

It was probably no coincidence that Spalding especially wanted Ward to come on the trip, since Ward was the head of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, the union organization of major league players. The union and the owners faced crucial issues following the 1888 season over the issue of the broadening of the reserve system. The reserve system had changed over the years since the National Agreement had first been signed. It allowed clubs to protect a certain number of players from signing with other teams even if a player�s contract expired; it was intended to prevent all the best players from signing with the richest club, which would hurt the competitive balance of the league. Even Ward recognized the need for a fair distribution of talent among the clubs. But the number of players that could be protected had risen to the point where few players had the freedom to consider competitive offers for their services�a labor practice that players as a whole naturally felt was unfair. If Ward was out of the country for several months�and incommunicado on shipboard since wireless telegraphy did not yet exist�Spalding, as the leading owner, could both gauge Ward�s thoughts and keep him out of contact with his union brethren. 

In early October, 1888, President Grover Cleveland took time out from his reelection campaigning to meet with Anson�s White Stockings and endorse the tour�s members as official representatives of the national game. The tour itself left Chicago on the cold day of Oct. 20, 1888 and headed by train to St. Paul, Minn. Although the tour�s goal was Australia, Spalding had arranged for games to be played as the contingent headed out west. No major league teams existed west of the Mississippi, so their stops were anticipated with great excitement. Eager crowds witnessed games in St. Paul, Cedar Rapids, Hastings, Neb., Denver, Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. Once in San Francisco, the players made side trips to Stockton and Lis Angeles for exhibitions. Usually, the local �cranks� were given a good display of talent, but some games were marred by bad weather, tight schedules, and listless play due to overindulgences made by the troupe the evening before a game. They were often feted in grand style in the larger cities, guests at sumptuous, multi-course dinners given in their honor that lasted late into the night. 

Although Spalding (and co-investor Anson) had an economic motive for the tour; and a secondary motive of professional pride, both men also were caught up in a wave of nationalism that swept through America in the 1880s. This spirit was intensified in Chicago�s residents, who took great pride in the energetic verve of their city as it rebuilt itself following the Great Fire of 1871. Spalding�s arrangement for the team to go with the blessing of the President was calculated to cast baseball as an expression of the American national character. Spalding was passionate on this issue�he was already at the forefront of a decades-long campaign to rewrite baseball�s origins as starting on native soil, rather than evolving as a variant of a European game. For his part, Anson�s pride in baseball followed his born egotism�he was the best captain of the best sport of the best nation in the world, a firm believer in American exceptionalism. 

Combine the chauvinism of the tour�s leaders with the pervasive racism of American society, and you do not get a formula for an ideal ambassador. Add in the fact that many of the players were not well educated, earned their living playing a game, were accustomed to privileges afforded by the adoring attention of their countrymen, and were in the prime of their masculine glory�and you get a recipe for embarrassing foreign incidents. These fears were tempered only by the fact that the expedition�s end goal was also a brash, barely civilized (by white European standards) country itself, Australia. In 1888, Australia was not yet an independent nation. It was still a set of separate colonies which often competed with one another for preeminence on the southern continent. Like the United States, it owed its reputation for wildness to harsh landscapes and aboriginal resistance to white settlement, but was also enhanced by its early history as British penal colonies and as a dumping ground for �remittance men�, i.e. British expatriates exiled to live in Australia who were also sent money to stay there. 

Cap Anson did not need to meet any dark-skinned natives to shine the light on his racist tendencies�he agreed to bring along his own object of bigotry, Chicago�s human mascot, a 15-year-old African American named Clarence Duval. It was not unusual for baseball teams of the time to adopt human mascots, who were often little children dressed in uniforms that were paraded in front of their home crowds. Though a teen, Duval was still small in stature, but he was also a talented entertainer�he sang, danced, and was an expert baton twirler. Even Anson admitted Duval had the ability to please a crowd, but he was often irked that Duval sometimes stole the limelight and displayed some independence. During the trip, Duval was forced to do double duty both as a mascot and as a servant�and was even offered to ship officers as an extra deck hand. 

To add more variety to the drawing card while overseas, Spalding hired an aeronaut, Professor Coryell Bartholomew, who joined the troupe before it set sail from San Francisco. Bartholomew used a one-man hot-air balloon to make ascensions and parachute leaps. He had one glass eye--though one might think that the depth perception offered by binocular vision might come in handy for a parachutist approaching a landing. There were dozens of aeronauts now working fairs and circuses around the country, many of whom adopted the �Professor� title. By arranging to bring Bartholomew, Spalding might have been recalling some of the poor crowds that previous foreign baseball exhibitions had drawn�those who did attend were unappreciative and confused by the rules of the American game. 

While en route to the Hawaiian Islands, Spalding informed his players that the tour had been extended from Australia to Asia, Africa, and Europe�a world tour. If any men had reservations, they get them private, and most openly were excited at the prospect of becoming globetrotters. Meanwhile, back in New York, Spalding�s fellow owners gathered and agreed on a new system of a salary cap of $2500 at the top level and lower limits on other defined levels�classifications they would be made by the owners themselves. Since the Brotherhood of Players was already bucking at the reserve system, the further insult of salary classifications and limits was an outrageous affront. However, their leader (and also a licensed lawyer) John M. Ward, was enjoying a tropical cruise. 

Spalding�s troupe arrived in Hawaii a day late, on a Sunday, and was scheduled to leave the next day. The Hawaiian Islands had not yet been annexed by the United States, and still had a monarchy, but the white settlers had taken matters into their own hands and forced the King to abdicate all his real power to their authority, leaving him little more than a figurehead. The white settlers had a strong missionary heritage, so their Blue laws forbidding game play on Sundays was etched in stone. Therefore, the ballplayers were unable to take the field while in Hawaii, but to tweak his masters, King Kalakaua invited them to a sumptuous, festive luau�an entertainment no less sacrilegious than Sunday ball play, but not specifically outlawed. Cap Anson was able to contain any overt display of his racism (his heart may have been softened by a demonstration of hula dancing) but his memoir�s impression of King Kalakaua is telling:

�King Kalakuau was by no means a bad-looking fellow, being tall and somewhat portly, with the usual dark complexion, dark eyes and white teeth, which were plainly visible when he smiled, that distinguished all of the Kanaka race. Somehow, and for no apparent reason, there came to my mind as I looked at him the lines of that old song: �Hokey, pokey, winky wum, How do you like your murphys done? Sometimes hot and sometimes cold, King of the Cannibal Islands,� and I tried hard to fancy what might have happened had we landed on those same islands several centuries before.�

The folk ballad Anson was recalling had further verses, each one more insulting than the last, portraying Polynesians as bigamous, ignorant cannibals.

The tour next played exhibitions at Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, New South Wales in front of respectful, but somewhat bewildered crowds. As Spalding was beginning to realize, the nuances of baseball were not easy to pick up for the uninitiated, so the warmth of their reception seemed directly tied to the degree to which American expatriates had already been in an area playing the game. In Sydney, they attended a performance at the Royal Theater of The Chinese Question, an anti-Asian immigrant comedy that dwelt on the fears of the white English settlers of Australia. Australians were not without their own institutionalized xenophobia. The tour�s evangelistic mission was a better success in Melbourne and Adelaide, where amateur clubs were started in their wake (which, after all, was Spalding�s sporting goods business motive). Professor Bartholomew�s parachute leaps also attracted attention in Australia, but he crashed into a roof during his jump in Ballarat and suffered a cut in his leg that put him out of commission.

After a one-day stopover in Ceylon, Spalding learned that he had to abandon any plans for tour stops in India: there were no suitable enclosed parks that would allow admittance to be charged; and moreover, rail transportation across India was much more expensive and uncomfortable than they were willing to bear. So they decided to stay on the same German ship that had brought them from Australia all the way to Suez, Egypt. Ceylon was the tour�s first exposure to a large non-white population, and the Americans immediately dismissed them as poor, filthy, and uncivilized. Several men and spouses took an excursion to a Buddhist temple, but even there their lasting impression centered on the shabby appearance of the priests and their demands for alms.

On arrival in Egypt, the Americans� ethnocentricity found the conditions there even more appalling. They complained of being swarmed over by beggars; the rail stations were impossibly noisy and crowded�though they cleared a path through the crowds by stepping on the sandaled toes of the natives. They described the port of Suez as being dirty, dusty, smelly, and run-down (without placing any blame on the occupying power of Great Britain); and they were surprised to see the populace living in miserable mud huts clustered near the Nile. Fortunately, Cairo�s European neighborhoods afforded them the exotic, luxurious accommodations they had expected. While in Cairo, they were taken by donkey and camel to the Pyramids. The White Stockings and the All-Americas played a game on the hard sand flats right next to the ancient monuments. When natives had to be cajoled to give back foul balls hit into the curious audience, it only confirmed the Americans� opinion that Egyptians were too ignorant to appreciate a civilized sport. The players posed for pictures while crawling over the Sphinx; a few of them climbed the Great Pyramid. But they appeared deaf to the echoes of antiquity�they had a contest to see who could hit the Sphinx�s right eye socket with a thrown ball; and tested their throwing arms against the height of the Great Pyramid.

It was only upon arrival in Egypt that the news about the National League owners� new salary structure reached the tour�s players and John M. Ward. Though a leading owner, there is doubt that Spalding had a hand in designing the new pay scale plan; as an owner of a profitable club in a large city that could afford to buy talent, the intent of the plan offered him few benefits. Even so, at that point Ward and his fellow players must have wondered in the tour had been nothing more than a diversionary tactic. For the remaining weeks of the tour, they had numerous discussions about what the appropriate reaction of the Brotherhood of Players should be to the owner�s plan. Had Spalding and Ward not been out of the country, their influence might have prevented an event that nearly killed major league baseball in America.

From Egypt, the troupe sailed to Brindisi, Italy, and the more familiar surroundings of European culture. Speaking of Egypt, Anson had concluded: �I should hardly fancy having to remain there for a life-time, as the manners and customs of the Orient are not to my liking. The line of demarcation between the rich and the poor is too strongly drawn and the beggars much too numerous to suit my fancy.� Anson did not distinguish his own civility at the first game the teams played in Italy, at Naples. The crowd of 3000-4000 was allowed to stand very close to the foul lines, interfering with the White Stocking fielders as they attempted to catch fouls on the fly. Anson complained bitterly to the umpire. A little later, a fly foul went into the crowd and hit a man in the head, and during the resulting melee of people rushing onto the field of play, Anson lifted home plate off the field so that the game would have to be stopped short of the required innings for the score (against Chicago) to stand. Spalding had to intervene to calm down the crowd�and Anson�but no one there could have been impressed by Anson�s sportsmanship. However, no such incidents marred the performances the tour gave in Rome or Florence. Spalding and his players were incredulous that the Coliseum had no level ground on which they could play�archaeologists were excavating the chambers and conduits under the long-gone arena floor. While in Italy, aeronaut Bartholomew purchased a whole bag full of  glass eyes of different hues, which he rattled around in a bag like marbles, and claimed they would allow him to resemble either his mother�s or his father�s side of the family whenever he chose.

The tour arrived in Paris, in March, 1889, just as that city was preparing to host the Exposition Universelle, the world�s fair. Several Americans�advance agents for Buffalo Bill�s Wild West, which would be at the Exposition for the year�were already in Paris, announcing that Annie Oakley would be rejoining the Wild West after a year�s absence. The White Stockings and the All-Americas played nearby the partially complete Eiffel Tower, which was being constructed as the centerpiece of the Exposition. Parisians were as unsure about the American game as they were about the effect of the Tower on their city skyline. However, Spalding�s tour had only a week to make their case, and more time was spent sightseeing and nightclubbing than proselytizing the sport. Even aeronaut Professor Bartholomew was seen dancing the can-can.

The tour came at last to the British Islands, where Spalding hoped for a warm reception and to recoup something from what now appeared to be a substantial business loss. Anson was pessimistic about baseball�s prospects in England�perhaps he realized his investment in the tour was turning sour. Having learned some lessons from the unsuccessful baseball tour of a decade earlier, Spalding sought to avoid a direct comparison to cricket�and by no means would he allow the players to embarrass themselves at that game. However, he did still make the same miscalculation of trying to market baseball to the same crowd in Britain that supported cricket: the upper class and nobility. The Americans dined with royalty and played their games on the immaculate cricket fields. Perhaps too late, Spalding saw much greater enthusiasm from the crowds as the tour went north through England�s industrial cities and Glasgow, Scotland.

Spalding�s World Tour set sail from Ireland in early April, 1889. On their arrival in New York City, they were hailed as conquering heroes and feted at an excusive dinner given in their honor at Delmonico�s. Mark Twain was the speaker of honor, who regaled them with stories of his own adventures in Hawaii. Once in New York, the tour began another series of exhibitions in cities of the Eastern U.S. One of the ironies of the world tour is that it generated more interest, income, and praise in America than it had abroad. It forever imprinted baseball as �the national pastime�, and bound it together with other symbols of nationalism. Though not a success in itself, Spalding�s World Tour sparked new interest in the major league game throughout America�but what should have been a huge marketing success was squandered within less than a year by an all-out labor war between league owners and players.

Chicago greeted the players with a huge downtown parade, and they were carried on the shoulders of fans from their train to the carriages that would convey them through the streets. The parade was led by the National Guard band, a bagpipe brigade, and two marching bands. Also marching were fifty-eight local amateur teams in uniform. There were half a dozen wagons containing chemical spotlights and fireworks to light up the sky. One estimate gave the crowd size lining the streets as 150,000. Albert Spalding and Cap Anson must have basked in the acclaim, preferring to ignore the coming storm that would forever topple their baseball dynasty.

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If Alfred Lawson did not personally participate in the welcoming parade, he certainly must have read the newspaper accounts the tour had generated during the previous six months with the envy of his own ambitions. Within just a few years, Lawson would embark on several baseball tours of his own, but in the meantime his pitching career would take some strange turns. As the recently returned White Stockings and their National League opponents opened their 1889 season, Lawson started his season 120 miles to the south of Chicago, in Lafayette, Ind. He appeared in five different uniforms that summer: from Lafayette he went to Bloomington, Ill.; Galesburg, Ill.; and on to Sterling, Ill in August and Appleton, Wis. in August and September. Although his move from town to town may have been a result of dissolution of teams early in the season, by the time Lawson reached Sterling and Appleton, he had gained a reputation as a successful young pitcher. In fact, he was being called a �phenom,� i.e. a phenomenal rising star.

It is nearly impossible to judge the effectiveness of a pitcher in this era from the box scores. For example, on Aug 28th, 1889, Lawson pitched for the Sterling team against a semi-pro team sponsored by the Chicago Inter Ocean, the city�s leading Republican newspaper. Inter Ocean won, 9-8, but said of Lawson: �Lawson is a young pitcher with great speed and admirable control of the ball. He pitched a great game.� In trying to reconcile this statement with the inflated score, the only clue is the error count: Inter Ocean committed 11 errors, Sterling 7 errors.

A young sportswriter (and poet) named William A. Phelon witnessed one of the games Lawson played in the summer of 1889, and later recalled one of the most remarkable catches he had ever seen in his 36-year reporting career:

"I have seen thousands of marvelous catches, but only once did a see a ball caught on the back of a man's hand. It was in 1889, during a semi-professional game. A second baseman named Lawson leaped up after a fly ball. He had little hope or chance to get it--merely stuck his hand vaguely up in the air. The ball struck full on the back of the hand, forced its way between the fork of the fingers, and down came the astonished Lawson, with the ball still clinging to its landing place!"

In an era in which fielding errors weighed so heavily in the outcome, Lawson�s final team of 1889, Appleton, had a remarkable record. By August 28th, their won-loss tally was 42-5. They billed themselves as the �Amateur Champions of the State� and took on other teams for a gameday purse. On August 28th, Appleton played the Inter Ocean team, and Lawson was in the box through the first nine innings of a 2-2 ties. In the 10th, his finger blistered and he allowed six runs that decided the game. The Appleton team continued to play against Chicago semi-pro teams throughout September, finding many takers in the big city for the purse-stake contests. It is likely that by the time Appleton�s season ended at the end of September, Lawson had received some advice to head south to play winter ball in Florida in order to hone his skills for the next season. Young Al Lawson had good reason to think that he might be able to rise quickly through the professional ranks, considering what happened to the major leagues in their year of 1889.

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When John M. Ward returned from Spalding�s World Tour in the spring of 1889, he knew that the Brotherhood of Players would have to make some response to the owner�s new salary classification and cap scheme. Many of his fellow players were ready to call a strike in July of 1889, but Ward urged them to hold off, since he had a more audacious plan. Frustrated with a long history of distrust between owners and players, Ward approached his brethren with the idea of starting their own league, where clubs would be run by a cooperative between the players and team financiers. Plans for the new league were underway by late summer, 1889. Most of the National League�s star players were ready to jump to the new league with Ward, but Cap Anson was a notable exception. Ward himself played out his entire 1889 season with the National League New York Giants�and won the League championship as their star player.

The National League owners heard the rumors of the players planning to form their own League, but thought they were bluffing. In October, 1889, just as the season ended, over one hundred of the players in the Brotherhood refused to sign contract for the 1890 season. In November, they publicly declared that they would not be playing in the National League the next year. In December, they formally announced the Players League and the cities that would be represented. The Players League would directly vie with the National League in several cities. Minor league baseball players must have realized that the coming 1890 season might offer them new opportunities to make it to the major league level, since there were now three major leagues to vie for their talents: The Players League, the National League, and the American Association. Alfred Lawson could not have been better positioned to step up to the plate as a major league player.







Riding the rails, as demonstrated for sociologist and photographer John James McCook in the early 1890s


Al Lawson in 1888, as he started his career in baseball.













































Isaac M. Singer, the intemperate force behind America's first multinational corporation.


Adding gold filigree and decorative cabinets were Edward Clark's ideas to appeal to the aesthetics of home decor--Clark knew the female market placed a premium on such touches.






















Albert G. Spalding, president of the Chicago White Stockings, owner of Spalding sporting goods, and backer of the baseball tour of 1888.


Adrian "Cap" Anson, the White Stockings player/coach and future member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.





In a special costume of black tights and white leotard, Coryell Bartolomew performed acrobatic tricks on the trapeze bar during his parachute descent.



Impressions of baseball, as seen by an illustrator for a Melbourne newspaper. Feisty Cap Anson, arguing a call like a bantam cock, is in lower left.

American baseball players swarm over the Sphinx. From the ground, they tried to see who could throw a ball into the landmark's right eye.


John Montgomery Ward, star of the National League's New York Giants and head of the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players. He founded the Players League after the 1889 season.

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