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New Century, New League
Two months into the 20th century, National League owners voted to reduce the number of teams to eight. The Cleveland, Louisville, and Washington franchises were dropped and compensated $10,000 each; Baltimore received $30,000. Louisville owner, Barney Dreyfuss, also owned the Pittsburgh franchise and moved many of his players there, including the great Honus “the Flying Dutchman” Wagner who played stellar shortstop and terrified opposing National League pitchers for the next 17 years. The year 1900 was also the rookie year of now legendary New York Giants’ righthander Christy Mathewson.
The so-called “classic eight” 1900 National League franchises remained intact until 1953 when the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee. On March 16, 1900, a week after the NL reduction meeting, a crusading and ambitious man named Ban Johnson convened a meeting in Chicago to announce formation of the new American League. Johnson and his backers justified the need for a new league because the rowdy National League, with its frequent fights and altercations, was driving families and women away, but nobody believed that. No tolerance would be shown for players and managers who did not respect Umpires, and foul language on the field would result in fines and suspensions. But what ensured success of the new league was abolishment of the $2,400 National League salary cap. National League owners refused to recognize the AL as an equal, declaring it an outlaw league; not surprisingly, the players didn’t see it that way.
On the field, the revamped eight-team National League played a 142 game schedule, and the Phillies once again finished third, eight games behind the Brooklyn Superbas. Run production was down by more than 100, and the pitching staff had no 20-game winners. Wiley Piatt pitched only 160 innings with a 9-10 record. Attendance sagged to 301, 913, still tops in the league.By max blue