Today’s flap over the Boston Red Sox threatened boycott of their trip to Japan calls to mind an episode from an earlier globetrotting adventure from baseball’s past. Back in the off-season of 1888-1889, Albert Spalding organized a barnstorming tour across the seas on which he brought his own Chicago ballclub (today’s Cubs) and a team of stars from the National League. That trip, which eventually circumnavigated the globe, was originally scheduled to travel only as far as Australia. Today’s players get a $40,000 bonus for their excursion across the Pacific. Spalding offered all of $50 for the privilege—as he considered it—of tagging along on his first class trip. Not surprisingly, he had some trouble recruiting talent. Mike “King” Kelly, the most bankable star of the day, skipped out after one game in Chicago. Charlie Comiskey, then a player, refused the invitation outright on account of the low wage. “Would not have been cigar money,” he said. Spalding nevertheless assembled a more than respectable roster, but he had good sense not to reveal the full round-the-world itinerary of the journey until the boys were safely travelling across the ocean, and turning back was no longer an option. The group eventually made it to the Pyramids, the Colliseum, the Eiffel Tower, and the Houses of Parliament in London—and everyone was glad to have made the trip, which is the subject of my book, Spalding’s World Tour. A perfect reading companion to the Sox new adventure.
Hell No, We Won’t Go!
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