On May 4, 1871, Bobby Mathews pitching for the Kekiongas of Fort Wayne, Indiana, faced James "Deacon" White, the catcher for Forest City of Cleveland. On the pitch, White laced a double into right field at Fort Wayne's Hamilton Field. Thus was the beginning of the National Association, baseball's first professional league.
This is a history of a loose alliance of mostly hard-drinking, undisciplined players, and driven, sometimes irascible, owners. It is the story of the Wright brothers (George and Harry) who brought fundamentals to the game that are still used, and players such as Albert Spalding who won 207 games during the league's existence.
The appendix provides season by season batting averages and pitching records for each team, as well as the Association's all-time leaders in batting average, pitching wins, and hits.